Deadliest Volcano of the 20th Century, 100 Years Later

Molly Pell and Shannon Dodge
for National Geographic News
May 8, 2002

At the peak of its popularity in the early 20th century, St. Pierre was known as the Paris of the West Indies, and the flourishing colonial city was home to almost 30,000 inhabitants.

Then on the morning of May 8, 1902, Mount Pelée, on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean Sea, erupted. A giant black plume darkened the sky, while a superheated cloud of hot ash, toxic gases, and magma fragments raced down the volcano's sides at hurricane-force speeds. Within minutes, the city of St. Pierre had been destroyed, its 30,000 inhabitants dead.

One hundred years after the eruption of Mount Pelée, ruins from the disaster can still be found throughout St. Pierre. Today only 6,000 people occupy the rebuilt city.

Read a photo essay on the deadly eruption of Mount Pelée a century ago today: Go>>

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