ON THIS DAY: 28 December 1908

At 5:20 am local time an earthquake lasting 30 seconds, with a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale, devastated parts of Sicily and southern Italy. The epicentre was in the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and Calabria on the ‘toe’ of Italy’s mainland. Due to seismic activity in the area, Sicily and Calabria are often referred to as La Terra Ballerina (the Dancing Land). As a result of such dancing, a tsunami followed the earthquake and produced waves up to 40 feet (13 metres) high that hit northeast Sicily and the southwest coat of Italy. More than 80,000 people were killed and coastal towns such as Messina and Reggio di Calabria were almost completely destroyed.