25 Worst Earthquakes In History

Posted by on April 27, 2015

On Saturday April 25th 2015, Nepal witnessed one of history’s worst earthquakes which claimed over 5000 lives and destroyed many historical sites. Though earthquakes are naturally-occurring incidents that are caused by the sudden release of energy in the earth’s shifting crust thus creating seismic waves, the devastation caused by this natural event is incomprehensible. Some of the worst earthquakes in history have claimed countless lives and billions of dollars worth of property damage. From the recent Nepal Earthquake which has so far caused the lives of over 5,000 people to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, here are 25 of the worst earthquakes in the world, both in the number of deaths and magnitude.


25

Valdivia, Chile

When it comes to the earthquake’s magnitude, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake takes the cake at 9.5, which was equivalent to a massive 178-Gigatons of power. This can be comparable to 1,000 atomic bombs going off at the same time. The earthquake was not only felt in Valdivia but also reached Hawaii, at a distance of 435 miles. While only 6,000 people died in the catastrophe, it incurred more than $1 billion worth of damages.

24

Shaanxi, China

This earthquake has sometimes been called the deadliest earthquake in history. The incident happened on January 23, 1556 in Shaanxi, China and devastated an area of 520 miles. It was felt in 97 countries; and resulted in more than 20 meters deep crevices and landslides, which collapsed numerous dwellings. The death toll of this devastating earthquake was 830,000, which is over 60% of the region’s population. Its magnitude was only 8.0 on the Richter scale or only 1-Gigaton, but the costs cannot be written in today’s terms.

23

Sumatra, Indonesia

This earthquake hit the sea bed of the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 with a magnitude of 9.1 to 9.3 or over 32-Gigatons, and caused the Boxing Day Tsunami. This was the second highest seismic activity recorded with the longest duration of tremors. The after-effects even reached Maldives and Thailand, with more than 5 tsunamis hitting the coastlines of the Indian Sea. It had a death toll of 100,100 to 225,000 with over $7 billion worth of rescue and damage costs during the first 8.3 to 10 minutes alone.

22

Aleppo, Syria

This disaster happened near the town of Aleppo in Syria on October 11, 1138. The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.5 or 2.8-Gigaton, was labeled as the fourth worst earthquake disaster in the world. Catastrophes included a nearby church that fell on itself causing the death of 600 guards and citizens, and total death toll of 230,000. A number of towns near the tremor were completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt to become habitable again.



21

Tangshan, China

This tragedy happened on July 28, 1976 in Tangshan, Hebei and killed 255,000 people though the Chinese government first recorded its death toll at 655,000. The 8.2 magnitude or 2.2-Gigaton quake only lasted for 10 seconds, but brought a lot of devastation to the area. In addition, Tangshan is a region with a very low-risk for earthquakes, so the buildings were not earthquake-proof. The quake was 4 miles long and 5 miles wide, which left a total damage of 10 billion Yuan or $1.3 billion.