Mr. Biddle to Mr. Fish.
San Salvador , March 10, 1873. (Received April 8.)
Sir: In my No. 9I mentioned the series of earthquakes occurring here in the months of December and January last. While San Vicente was materially injured thereby, the city of San Salvador, and other settlements, had remained unscathed.
With the first of March tremblings of the earth recommenced, increasing in violence, until the afternoon of the 4th instant, when a terrific temblor suddenly shook the houses in the capital to their very foundations, causing much devastation, and more alarm. Over eighty subsequent shocks have occurred, with serious loss to property, both of houses and movables, but happily unattended with loss of life. These phenomena continued, producing great demoralization in the population, two-thirds of which have sought refuge in the open country. The authorities have exerted commendable vigilance and energy to preserve tranquillity. The military are under arms, and police guards patroling, to avert the crime which evil men avail themselves of these occasions to perpetrate.
Volcanic eruptions are reported from Izalco, Santa Ana, and other localities, which may be regarded as safety-valves to a danger, for the cause and extent of which no two scientific men seem to hold a similar opinion.
The earthquakes are reported all over the state as with greater or less violence.
The diffusion of the damage over town and country, and particularly to the flimsy structures of the poor, is the real evil, rather than an overwhelming loss in any one spot. Few houses are actually leveled, but collapsed roofs, creviced walls, broken chattels, &c., are visible at every step, and, indeed, surround me as I write. Many of the finest dwellings here will be utterly untenantable.
It is impossible to compute the damages at this date, but they are serious to a community which has already suffered so many inflictions.
The domestic political tranquillity remains undisturbed notwithstanding the commotions in Guatemala and Honduras, and the material aid in troops furnished by Salvador to the governments of those republics.
I have, &c.,