WASHINGTON: Forty Seconds of Fear

At five minutes before noon one day last week, the whole Pacific slope of the State of Washington, and border areas of Oregon and British Columbia, began to twitch. Seattle's 42-story L. C. Smith Tower and hundreds of lesser structures began to groan and sway. Automobiles waltzed crazily on highways. Bridges creaked. Chandeliers swung like pendulums. Dishes and bells set up a wild jangling. A million people simultaneously felt shallow-breathed fear.

Eight of them were dead almost as soon as the earth beneath their feet began to lurch. Falling bricks or masonry killed an eleven-year-old schoolboy in Tacoma, an 18-year-old...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!