The 1956 Santorini earthquake and its devastating aftermath


The date is July 9, 1956 and Santorini is as beautiful as it has always been with its white and blue adobe buildings perched on the caldera cliffs. The markets are filled with venders eager to sell their fresh produce. To any regular native of Santorini this seems like another day of business and enjoyment.

But then, without warning in the early hours of the morning, disaster struck. Santorini was hit by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, the largest to ever be seen in Europe in the 20th century. It was followed by a tsunami 25 meters high.

At least 53 people were killed and more than 100 were injured. 35 percent of the houses collapsed and 45 percent suffered major or minor damage. Almost all public buildings were completely destroyed. 

Such devastation led to a huge internal migration of the population of Santorini, mainly to Athens.

Apart from Santorini, the islands of Amorgos (the epicentre of the earthquake), Anafi, Astypalea, Ios, Paros, Naxos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos and Lipsi were also severely damaged. A total of 529 houses were destroyed, 1,482 were severely damaged and 1,750 were lightly damaged. 

The quake tested the state machinery, which had not yet recovered from the 1953 major earthquakes in Zakynthos, Cephalonia and Ithaca. 

Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis declared Santorini a state of “large-scale local disaster” and visited the affected area on July 14.

Many countries offered to send aid to relieve the earthquake victims. The only country whose help Greece refused was Great Britain, perhaps because of the Cyprus problem, which was then on the rise with the EOKA uprising.




By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Latest News

Mykonos shop owner reflects on Australia, Greece and crystals

Greek Australian, Apostolos Triantafyllou, 56, has been living in Mykonos for over 30 years now, and running his jewellery store 'Amethyst'.

Niki Louca shares her recipe for chicken pie with mushrooms

Niki Louca from My Greek Kitchen shares her favourite recipe for kotopita with manitaria (chicken pie with mushrooms) with The Greek Herald.

Dr Trakakis to give lecture in Melbourne on the late poet Tasos Leivaditis

Dr Nick Trakakis will give a seminar on Thursday, May 30 at the Greek Centre in Melbourne on the late poet Tasos Leivaditis.

Greek Australian artist VASSY receives Billions List award

Greek Australian-bred, singer, songwriter and dance music producer VASSY, has been honoured with the Billions List Award by APRA AMCOS.

Themis Chryssidis to reinvent his acclaimed Adelaide restaurant

Themis Chryssidis is transforming his acclaimed city restaurant, eleven, with a new menu and more affordable prices.

You May Also Like

Australian chain ‘Lukumades’ opens in Singapore

Popular Australia-based doughnut chain, 'Lukumades', has recently launched its first location in Singapore.

Centenary of Major George Devine Treloar’s mission saving Greek refugees from Asia Minor

Hellenism around the world has been marking the Centenary of the holocaust of Smyrne, the single most violent episode.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos: Where will ‘papa’ finish his football career?

Olympiakos? Genoa? Potentially the final destination of Sokratis' senior career, which football club will the Greek player call his new home?