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.
The Great Kanto earthquake was a magnitude 7.9 disaster that hit the Kanto plain, a main island of Honshu in Japan on September 1, 1923. This was once considered the deadliest earthquake in the history of Japan as it caused ‘the Great Tokyo Fire’ though the duration of the quake was only between 4 and 10 minutes. However, its record was surpassed by the 2011 Tohuku earthquake at a magnitude of 9.0. The fire alone claimed the lives of 140,000 people and destroyed 447,000 houses. This does not include those who died from landslides, tsunamis, and 57 aftershocks, which had estimated deaths of 93,000 people and 43,500 missing.
Ashgabat, Soviet Union
This earthquake occurred on October 6, 1948 near Ashgabat, USSR with a magnitude of 7.3. Due to censorship, this was not reported in the media so there were no reports regarding its casualties or damages. Due to the secrecy, it was purported that the earthquake was the result of Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb test. Media sources also vary on the number of casualties from 10,000 to 176,000 though a correct death toll was reported in December 9, 1988 as 110,000. The earthquake also caused the collapsed of brick buildings, concrete structures and freight trains.
This was a 7.1-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that claimed the lives of some 100,000 to 200,000 lives in Messina and Reggio in Sicily and Calabria in southern Italy. The earthquake, which took place on December 28, 1908, caused the ground to shake for 30 to 40 seconds and was felt in a 186-mile radius. A 12-meter tsunami also hit the nearby coasts causing more destruction including the death of 70,000 residents with 91% of the structures in Messina destroyed.
The Chihli earthquake happened in September 27, 1290 with the epicenter near Ningcheng in Inner Mongolia with an estimated magnitude of 6.8. However, it has a maximum felt intensity of nine on the Mercalli intensity scale as it claimed the lives of some 100,000 people. It also destroyed 480 storehouses and countless homes in nearby areas, including the Fengguo Temple in Yingxian.
The Great Sichuan Earthquake occurred on May 8, 2008 with a magnitude that measured 8.0 and 7.9. It was so great that it was felt in nearby countries and as far away as Beijing and Shanghai where buildings swayed with tremors. Official figures for the damages include 69,197 deaths with 68,636 in Sichuan province, 374,176 injured and 18,222 missing. This was considered as the deadliest earthquake to hit China after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, as it left 4.8 million to 15 million people homeless. The Chinese government is appropriating 1 trillion Yuan or $146.5 billion to rebuild areas ravaged by the great quake.