No. 688.
Mr. Russell to Mr. Fish.

No. 79.]

Sir: I have the honor to report some facts as to the earthquake of May 18, although the details may be better known in the United States than here. It is hard to get trustworthy accounts, and I have asked in vain for official statements. But there is no doubt that San Jose de Cuenta, in Colombia, and San Cristobal, in Venezuela, were wholly destroyed, with at least ten smaller towns. Other places were injured but not destroyed. The loss of life at Cuenta is estimated at 3,000. Probably an equal number have perished elsewhere. The number of the maimed is fearful. Much disease has resulted from the decay of the dead bodies. Scenes of violence and robbery followed the earthquake, but order has been restored by the shooting of a large number of the criminals. It is needless to say that the suffering which comes from this disaster is wide-spread and will continue long. The news was received here on June 7, and prompt measures of relief were taken. The President at once sent $5,000 for the Venezuelan sufferers and a like sum for the Colombians; and he headed a subscription, which has produced a large amount.

One effect of this calamity will be to check for the present all rebellious movements in the disaffected States of the Cordilleras where it occurred, and in Zulia, where the pecuniary loss is great. Trusting probably to this, government has released several political prisoners. A recent revolt at San Carlos Maracaibo was only a soldiers’ mutiny, and of no political significance. I inclose a copy of an unofficial letter to the minister of foreign relations on the earthquake, with his reply, and also a translation of his reply.

I have, &c.,

[Page 1380]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 79.]

Unofficial letter from Mr. Russell to Mr. Blanco.

Dear Sir: I wish to express to your excellency, and through your excellency to your government, the deep regret and sympathy with which I have learned the terrible calamity that has befallen so many of the inhabit unts of Tachira, as well as their neighbors of Colombia. This sympathy will be felt by the people whose Government I have the honor to represent as it was felt in days past for the distress of Caracas. They will grieve for the lost and suffering at Tachira and Santander as for brothers. The bereaved survivors of this great disaster may be assured that the heart of the world beats for their affliction. I am glad that prompt and generous measures have been taken by the President to alleviate the misery that must follow such a calamity. Your excellency will do me a favor by sending in time for the next mail any special facts that government may have as to details of this catastrophe, so that my letters may be full, more authentic, and to some extent official.

Repeating my assurances of regret, I need not renew my assurances of high consideration.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 79.—Translation.]

Mr. Blanco to Mr. Russell.

His Excellency the President of the Republic has been informed of letter of the 14th, in which your excellency is pleased to express in terms as cordial as expressive has been caused to your excellency, and which will be caused to the people whose Government your excellency worthily represents, by the terrible catastrophe which has sunk in desolation and ruins the towns of Tachira and Santander; and His Excellency has directed me to express to your excelleucy that he acknowledges and esteems highly the noble sentiments with which your excellency shows your interest in the fate of those unhappy people whom the weight of this misfortune oppresses.

I shall have the honor to transmit to your excellency the news and details which the government may obtain as to the sad event of May 18, and meantime it is pleasant to me to renew to your excellency the assurance of my high consideration.