Earthquakes are one of nature’s most destructive forces able to cause incomprehensible amount of damage in a very short period of time. From the Nepal Earthquake which caused the lives of over 5,000 people to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we’re going to share with you 25 of the worst earthquakes in the world, both in the number of deaths and magnitude.
Haiyuan County, China
Also called ‘the 1920 Gansu Earthquake,’ this disaster happened in Haiyuan County, Ningxia. Though there were conflicting reports on its magnitude and death toll, as both the Chinese government and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) published different reports, it still brought catastrophic effects that were felt for over 125 miles and aftershocks that lasted over 3 years. The December 16, 1920 quake has conflicting magnitudes of 7.8 and 8.5 and death tolls of 200,000 or 240,000.
The Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter near Leogane, 25 km west of its capital, Port-au-Prince. It struck on January 12, 2010 where at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater could still be felt even 12 days later. The earthquake left a devastating wake of 316,000 deaths, 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 people homeless. It was estimated that 250,000 houses and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely destroyed.
Xining, which lies on the Huangshui River on the eastern part of Quinghai Province, experienced a magnitude 7.9 seismic activity on May 22, 1927. It killed 40,900 people though there were other reports that the death toll could be as high as 200,000. The earthquake was not only deadly but it also brought large fractures, damages to over 500 schools and office buildings causing many people to lose their occupations. This was also linked to the Great Gansu Earthquake.
The earliest record-breaking earthquake as it happened on December 22, 856, this earthquake struck Damghan, the capital of Iran at that time with a magnitude of 8.0 or 1-Gigaton power. It killed 200,000 people, with tremors that could be felt throughout the surrounding areas of Damghan causing these areas to be totally destroyed as well, though Damghan itself was not severely damaged. A great example was Bustam, a nearby town, which was completely leveled by the quake.
On March 11, 2011, the east coast of Tohoku in Japan was struck by a 9.03 magnitude earthquake, which was the strongest to ever hit Japan. Considered one of the top five largest earthquakes in the world, it caused destruction that claimed 15,878 lives, left 6,126 injured and 2,173 people missing across 20 prefectures. It also caused the collapsed of 129,225 buildings, while the tsunami brought about by the quake also caused severe structural damages, fires in many areas, and damages in roads and railways. This was the most difficult crisis Japan had ever faced after World War II as it did not only inflict damages to lives and properties, but also caused significant damages to four major nuclear power stations. Debris from the tsunami reached as far as Canada and Hawaii.