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The earthquake began at 930 on November 1st 1755 and was centered in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km WSW of Cape St Vincent The total duration of shaking lasted ten minutes and was comprised of three distinct jolts Effects from the earthquake were far reaching The worst damage occurred in the south-west of Portugal Lisbon the Portuguese capital was the largest and the most important of the cities damaged Severe shaking was felt in North Africa and there was heavy loss of life in Fez and Mequinez Moderate damage was done in Algiers and in southwest Spain Shaking was also felt in France Switzerland and Northern Italy A devastating fire following the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon and a very strong tsunami caused heavy destruction along the coasts of Portugal southwest Spain and western Morocco In 1755 an earthquake followed by a tidal wave and a fire destroyed much of the citySoon after the earthquake several fires broke out mostly started by cooking fires and candles Some of them were rapidly extinguished especially in the densely populated areas But many inhabitants fled from their homes and left fires burning Narrow streets full of fallen debris prevented access to the fire sites The public squares filled with people and their rescued belongings but as the fire approached these squares were abandoned and the fire reached catastrophic proportions Looters setting fire to some ransacked houses caused the belief that the fire had a criminal origin The flames raged for five days All of the downtown area from St Pauls quarter to St Roch and from Carmo and Trindade to the Rossio square area to the Castle and Alfama quarters were burned along with the Ribeira Rua Nova and Rossio quarters Remolares Barrio Alto Limoeiro and Alfama were partially burned Several buildings which had suffered little damage due to the earthquake were destroyed by the fire The Royal Palace and the Opera
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