No. 736.
Mr. Hubbard to Mr. Bayard.

No. 495.]

Sir: Deeming the subject of sufficient moment, and certainly of painful interest to all nations who hold friendly relations with Japan, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a report which has been made to me by Mr. Mansfield, secretary of this legation, who visited the scene of the recent remarkable volcanic eruption of the mountain (Bandai-san) in the province of Inawashiro, about 166 miles from this capital, Mr. Mansfield having undertaken the trip a few days after the event, by my advice and consent, at his own expense.

The Japanese Government having dispatched scientists to the scene of the eruption, it is expected that a technical report on the same will be published at no distant day, and such report, together with anything else in connection with the same subject which may be of possible interest to the Department, will be forwarded immediately on its publication.

As will be seen by the inclosed report to me, the Imperial Government has done everything in its power for the relief of its destitute people who have suffered by this calamity.

Individual subjects of the Empire, as well as subjects and citizens of foreign powers resident in this country, have added their contributions to the relief fund.

The catastrophe, involving as it did the instant death of over five hundred people, besides the wounding of others and the destruction of thousands of acres of rich, cultivated lands with growing crops, the greater part of it hereafter useless for tillage, thereby attaches to its occurrence a feeling of sympathy extending far beyond the boundaries of the Empire, on whose unfortunate subjects its consequences have fallen.

I have, etc.,

Richard B. Hubbard.
[Inclosure in No. 495.]

Mr. Mansfield to Mr. Hubbard.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the recent trip, undertaken by your advice and consent, to the scene of the volcanic eruption of the mountain of Bandai-san in the province of Inawashiro.

According to the statements of those with whom I talked, of the survivors of the destroyed villages, and of the people who live in the district for miles around, rumblings were heard and tremors felt in the neighborhood of the mountain on Sunday morning the 15th instant.

The first disturbance noticed occurred at 7 o’clock a.m., and was followed by three earthquake shocks at intervals of ten minutes apart, when a loud explosion took place, the noise of which the people compare to the report of thousands of cannon discharged simultaneously. This was accompanied by another terrible earthquake shock, which so frightened the people that they attempted to escape. Reaching their doors they saw a thick black smoke arising from the principal peak of Bandai-san, and found themselves at once enveloped in the darkness of night, while the air was filled by a shower of fine black ashes and suffocating sulphurous dust. The violence of the earth tremors made it impossible for them to stand, so that the only way left [Page 1074] them to escape was by crawling on their hands and knees. As soon as it grew light enough again to see, and the earth tremors had ceased sufficiently to allow them to stand upright, they fled down the valley amid the dust and ashes and falling rocks, some being killed or wounded by the way. So great was the terror which affected the people that they came running from the district around the mountain, and even from places miles away, to points of safety, many of them naked and bleeding, and all almost in despair.

The eruption reached its height at 10 o’clock a.m., and at 4 p.m. had entirely ceased.

When I reached Inawashiro, at the foot of the southwest slope of the mountain, most of the people from this town had returned to their homes, many of them only on the day before my arrival.

The Imperial Government had set up a hospital for the treatment of the wounded, and had organized a relief committee to look alter the homeless and to recover the bodies of those who had been killed. Nothing, indeed, had been left undone by the Imperial Government to alleviate the sufferings of the people so far as it lay in their power to do so.

The number of lives lost, according to the official statement given me at the Government relief station at Inawashiro, was 518, and the number of bodies recovered up to that time 70, while 41 persons were then in the temporary hospital at Inawashiro, under treatment for injuries received at the time of the disaster.

The eruption occurred from the eastern side of the principal peak of Bandai-san, the first discharge of which was evidently thrown directly across the summit of the smaller peak of the same name, carrying a portion of the latter away with it, and leaving the altered contour of the smaller mountain covered with mud and fine ashes, which also found its way over the sides and between the slopes of the two on the northern and eastern exposures, and running down in a stream to the valley below.

There were two separate streams, the eastern and the northern. The main eastern stream, divided about half way up the mountain by a ridge, came down in two separate volumes, the one continuing eastward, while the other descended on the southern side of the mountain and stopped at a very small hamlet called Mino-Mura, which was partly destroyed by the mud, which completely covered the houses within its reach.

The amount of mud thrown out by the volcano is simply enormous, as all the streams reach from the top of the mountain a distance of 4 or 5 miles, and at the southern and eastern sides, which I visited, half a mile wide at the base, the breadth of the stream on the northern side being, I am told, larger.

The greatest loss of life occurred at the hot springs on the northern side, where the first discharge took place, thus giving the people there little or no opportunity to escape.

At Inawashiro, at the foot of the southwestern slope of the mountain, and the principal town in the vicinity on the southern side of Bandai-san, no houses were destroyed, as it was just beyond the reach of the streams of mud, although some thirty persons while attempting to escape were killed by falling stones.

At Shibatani, 2 miles from the foot of the mountain, on the east, nearly every house was thrown down by an earthquake shock, the stream of mud not reaching that far. It was noticed, however, that the roofs of the houses, as well as every everything else for some miles east of the mountain, were covered with a fine dust and ashes to the depth of about 6 inches.

At Nagasaka, a small hamlet further to the east, the loss of life was very great, although not a single house was destroyed.

It seems that the water of a stream flowing within a hundred yards was diverted from its course, and augmented, it is supposed, by a large volume of water from some other source, swept down the narrow valley in which the town is situated, carrying with it those who ran out of their houses at the sound of the explosion. A pond was formed at the village of Nagasaka, out of which thirty corpses had been taken up to the time of our arrival. The total number of deaths at this place was 130. A curious feature of the eruption appears in a long embankment, evidently thrown up during the earthquake, in the vicinity of the above-named village and extending some distance beyond it. It is surmised that this formation may have some connection with the extraordinary flood of water which proved so disastrous in causing the loss of life.

Besides the great loss of life and the injury to dwellings, almost irreparable damage has been done to the rice crop and cultivated grounds for miles on the east of the mountain, some of which land will never be fit for cultivation again.

The distance from Tokio to Inawashiro is about 166 miles, 136 of which may be traveled by railway and the rest by jinricksha.

I have, etc,

F. S. Mansfield.