Valdivia Quake

Stories of Earthquake Survival: Part 3

In 1960, the Chilean city of Valdivia experienced the largest earthquake that has ever been recorded, reaching a 9.5 magnitude on the Richter scale. It triggered a devastating tsunami and the region is continuing to rebuild, almost 60 years later.

Ten years ago, a man named Rodrigo Zeledon traveled from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Chile to record some of the stories that came from the disaster. If you’re interested in listening to his full recording, you can find it here. We’re so grateful for people like Rodrigo who seek out these stories and share them with the world. Even amidst so much destruction, human resilience shines brightly and in the face of tragedy, it’s a healing thing to remember. Today, we want to pass on one of these stories to you.

Edna is a woman who was in Queule, a village close to Valdivia that was affected by both the earthquake and the tsunami. She’s a kind woman in her 80’s and and still lives in Queule to this day. She has seen much of her town rebuilt, relocating her home higher up the hill during the rebuilding process.

The day of the earthquake and the tsunami is something Edna remembers every day of her life. She says it’s something that those who lived through will never forget.

“There was a very strong earthquake,” she said. “The ground cracked and opened in places. Suddenly, we looked toward the ea and a tremendous tide was coming.”

“We took off toward the mountain. Everyone did,” she continued. “Some stayed behind though, the ones that drowned. There was a party up in the hill and when the people were coming down, that’s when the wave got them… It came up the river, dragging boats. It went up that way. There came our house. We saw it, as it was going by… What a shame.”

It’s difficult to imagine the magnitude of this kind of devastation, unless you’ve experienced something similar.

To lighten the mood, one of Edna’s friends couldn’t help but make a joke. She said they had a gym club so that, were there ever to be another tsunami, they’d be able to run away.

-Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

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