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Daily History

July 21 365 Tsunami hits Alexandria, Egypt

Lighthouse of Alexandria

On July 21st 365, a powerful earthquake off the coast of Greece caused a tsunami that devastated the city of Alexandria, Egypt.

Although there were no measuring tools at the time, scientists now estimate that the quake was actually two tremors in succession, the largest of which is thought to have had a magnitude of 8.0.

The quake was centred near the plate boundary called the Hellenic Arc and quickly sent a wall of water across the Mediterranean Sea toward the Egyptian coast. Ships in the harbour at Alexandria were overturned as the water near the coast receded suddenly.

Reports indicate that many people rushed out to loot the hapless ships. The tsunami wave then rushed in and carried the ships over the sea walls, landing many on top of buildings. In Alexandria, approximately 5,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 homes were destroyed.

The surrounding villages and towns suffered even greater destruction. Many were virtually wiped off the map. Outside the city, 45,000 people were killed. In addition, the inundation of saltwater rendered farmland useless for years to come. Evidence indicates that the area’s shoreline was permanently changed by the disaster.

Slowly, but steadily, the buildings of Alexandria’s Royal Quarter were overtaken by the sea following the tsunami. It was not until 1995 that archaeologists discovered the ruins of the old city off the coast of present-day Alexandria.

Today, the anniversary of the tsunami is celebrated annually with the residents saying prayers and marking the evening by illuminating the city.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.


4 thoughts on “July 21 365 Tsunami hits Alexandria, Egypt

  1. I have been to this place in 2005, great photo Craig! 😀

    Posted by shafiqah1 | July 22, 2012, 00:45
  2. I hate this – I keep thinking these things are happening TODAY! I should know better by now… the timelessness of the 6 o’clock news…

    Posted by Elise Frances Miller | July 22, 2012, 03:46
  3. I have seen this in museums and books, and I think as far back, this is the first “light house”. Great post.

    Posted by Lisa at fLVE | July 22, 2012, 11:28
  4. Wow!!! Never had any idea about it. Was centuries before I was born. You know that its up for another flood in 50 years??? Some people say that the buildings facing the sea are already undergoing erosion resulted from humidity and the Sea keeps on crawling because of global warming ..so..it’s already talked about nowadays 😦

    Posted by The Tweezers | July 25, 2012, 21:28

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