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On This Day: Mt Pele Eruption (May 8th, 1902)

Martinique is home to an active volcano, Montagne Pelee, which erupted in 1902, killing everyone in the town of St. Pierre except the town drunk who had been thrown in jail. During the early stages of the eruption, clouds of red-hot cinders filled the sky and the air was full of the stench of sulfur. In St. Pierre, foot-long, violet-headed centipedes and deadly fer de lance snakes invaded the mulatto quarter. Despite such hazards, the inhabitants stayed and a river of boiling hot lava claimed 30,000 victims.

On This Day: St Jean Sink Hole (May 4th, 1971)

In the afternoon of May 4, 1971, the dogs in the Quebec town of St. Jean Vianney began to bark and whimper. Cows refused to leave their barns, and children came in from lunch, claiming that the ground was shaking and making strange noises. That night, as the town settled in for sleep, the unstable wet clay soil suddenly began to move. A hole opened up in the ground and began to suck whole houses into its maw. Families escaped from their homes and ran down the street to get away from the widening hole. Thirty-six homes were lost and thirty-one people died in the disaster. The town of St. Jean Vianney was abandoned and new building laws in Quebec were established