The 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée was a volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc of the eastern Caribbean, which was one of the deadliest eruptions in recorded history. Eruptive activity began on 23 April as a series of phreatic eruptions from the summit of Mount Pelée. Within days, the vigor of these eruptions exceeded anything witnessed since the island was settled by Europeans. The intensity then subsided for a few days until early May, when the phreatic eruptions increased again. Lightning laced the eruption clouds and trade winds dumped ash on villages to the west. Heavy ash fell, sometimes causing total darkness. Some of the afflicted residents panicked and headed for the perceived safety of larger settlements, especially Saint-Pierre, about 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Pelée's summit. Saint-Pierre received its first ash fall on 3 May.[3]