80 years since Belgium’s worst earthquake since preventative measures were installed
Sunday, 10 June 2018
It’s been 80 years since Belgium was rocked by its worst earthquake since preventative measures were installed in 1898. Two people were killed by the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 5.0. Many others were injured and there was lots of material damage.
The earthquake caught the Belgian population unawares a little before midday on the 11th of June 1938. The epicentre was between Audenarde and Renaix. There were no less than seven aftershocks, two of which had a magnitude of more than 4.
The earthquake was detected by more than 40 seismographs in Europe and even as far away as Moscow, according to the Belgian Royal Observatory.
The worst damage was in the Eastern and Western Flemish provinces, the North of Hainaut, the South West of Flemish Brabant and modern-day Wallonia. 17,500 chimneys were destroyed and many weathervanes and crosses fell from church rooves.
Courtrai was one of the worst affected, with 3,000 chimneys destroyed. Nearly all the city’s streets were full of debris.
It was “raining stones” in Ghent, as heavy ornaments fell from monumental buildings. A paper factory burned down after a short-circuit caused a fire.
Scientists say the 1938 earthquake was caused by a rupture within the Brabant mountain range, which covers a large part of Flanders and the North Sea. It has a layer of sediment that gets thicker as you go North.