Postcard Showing the Aftermath of an Earthquake in India

This week’s postcard is a fascinating image from India that eleven shows the aftermath of an earthquake:

Destruction lies all around, however the lack of fire leads me to believe that this was not the result of combat but rather a natural disaster:

Whilst I do not know for sure, I am guessing that this might be the aftermath of the 1935 Quetta Earthquake which measured 7.7 on the Richter Scale and was estimated to have buried up to 20,000 people. The local military forces were quickly drafted in to help and the journal of the Queen’s Royal Regiment explained:

It is not possible to describe the state of the city when the battalion first saw it. It was razed to the ground. Corpses were lying everywhere in the hot sun and every available vehicle in Quetta was being used for the transportation of injured … Companies were given areas in which to clear the dead and injured. Battalion Headquarters were established at the Residency. Hardly had we commenced our work than we were called upon to supply a party of fifty men, which were later increased to a hundred, to dig graves in the cemetery.

This postcard shows a group of three British soldiers observing the wreckage:

An Indian Sepoy stands in the foreground, presumably as shocked as his colleagues at the destruction:

Perched above squats a native man, watching the cameraman warily:

Being in an earthquake could be a disconcerting experience, as recorded by one subaltern in a letter home to his mother:

Funny things had been happening all evening. One minute it was very cold, and the next too hot to be pleasant. The wind suddenly changed and came from exactly the opposite direction.

Then a moaning noise started, which I personally thought was the wind. At about 2.45 am the stars were shining more brightly and it struck me that the surrounding hills looked nearer than usual, and somewhat weird for some reason — probably due to a mirage effect caused by the hot air rising from the ground. But this didn’t seem unusual. Things seem different in the course of a night march across country, particularly in this case, when we had covered the best part of 30 miles.

At about 3 am we struck the main road and started the homeward journey. I suddenly realized that the road was subsiding. A second before this happened the whole column had stopped dead as though they had a premonition!

Then there was a concerted rush to the side, but that was no use, because the trees seemed to be sweeping down towards us. Then the telegraph poles, which could just be distinguished in the dim light, began to perform the most amazing evolutions — wires whining overhead as they broke, and sparks from them running along the side of the road. It then dawned on me what was happening, and I dashed back to the road, and the whole of the surface of the ground turned into a rough sea ! Two hugh waves, just like Atlantic rollers, travelled along the road. I tried to lie down gracefully, but hit the ground with an awful smack as it was coming up to meet me at the same time.! One of the most unnerving things was the crackling, roaring noise which seemed to come from the depths of the earth. How long we all lay there I don’t know — it seemed like an hour. I’ve thought I’ve been frightened before, but now I really know what fear is like! On arising I didn’t dare to speak, as I couldn’t trust by voice, and my knees were literally knocking together. Of all he terrible experiences, one’s first real earthquake must be the worst — one feels so impotent and insignificant.

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