12. An Explosion That Shocked People 1600 Miles Away
After its initial pop on April 5th, 1815, Mount Tambora smoldered for the next few days, giving off faint detonation sounds from time to time. Then, on April 10th, people in Sumatra, 1600 miles away, were shocked by what sounded like the boom of big guns opening up nearby. It was the sound of Tambora going off. The eruption instantly killed about 12,000 on Sumbawa Island. 80,000 more died in the surrounding region from famine and starvation, after falling ash and pumice ruined their crops and fields.
As investigators subsequently pieced the chain of events, Tambora’s eruptions had grown more energetic early in the morning of April 10th. Flames shot up into the sky, and lava and glowing ash began pouring down the mountainside. By 8 AM, bits of pumice up to eight inches wide were falling down. Ash spewed into the air so thickly that it was pitch dark for two days, up to 400 miles away. The volcano gushed rivers of glowing ash down its sides to scorch Sumbawa Island, while its tremors sent tsunamis racing across the Java Sea.