- Cause; real and imaginary.
- First signs of the earthquake.
- The toll of earthquakes-destruction and ruin.
- Effects changes of land and water.
Due to some mysterious underground disturbance, the earth sometimes quakes or trembles and this is known as an earthquake. According to the old Indian ideas, the globe of the earth was supposed to be resting on the head of a divine cobra and whenever the cobra moved, the earth trembled and there was an earthquake. It is needless to say that this theory is mentioned here only as an amusing example of ignorant persons way of finding out explanations. As to the causes of earthquakes, some maintain that they are caused by volcanoes, while others say that they are due to the sudden contraction of the earth or the falling in of hollow spaces in the earth.
Earthquake is never pleasant to watch, much less to experience. It comes most suddenly and lasts for a moment; but the moment seems a big period. It gives you the sensation of riding on the back of a mad elephant. Fortunately, when the earthquake is very mild and short-lived, we feel a little shaking in our beds and we get up from our beds on hearing our doors tartling, as if somebody were knocking furiously at our doors at the dead of night!
But if the shock is intense, we see houses rocking and buildings and trees falling. There is a thundering noise mixed with the piteous cries of frightened children, and crying women and men madly running to save their lives. Due to friction and collision fire also breaks out. Wild animals, let loose from their cages, run down to the streets. Thus the whole place is in the jaws of destruction. Some while trying to escape, are buried alive under the debris of a falling house. Others escape injured. The damage to property sometimes runs to millions. Rich and rare collections of art, books, etc., are destroyed. Beautiful buildings are turned into heaps of dust. There are even instances of whole cities and towns being destroyed within a few minutes.
The examples of Quetta (W.Pakistan) and Bihar, (India) Turkey and Assam (India) are fresh in the memory of many amongst us. The terrible earthquake of Japan destroyed several towns and killed thousands of people.
For the damage done. by earthquakes, relief measures are soon taken into hand by selfless workers. After-effects of an earthquake are many. The surface of the earth is changed at many places. As Tennyson has said, we find the ocean roaring were formerly the mountain stood, and we find a mountain standing where formerly – the sea was roaring. The level of the earth goes down or up at many places. Rivers may change their course. Many small islands totally disappear under the waters, while many suddenly emerge from the water; of the sea.
Earthquakes are common in volcanic regions like Italy, and also in mountainous regions. It is remarkable that most of the earthquakes occur usually in winter.