10 Worst Earthquakes Recorded in History That Had Severe After-Effects

Earthquake destroys buildings, makes people homeless, and also affects the economic condition of the countries.

4 years ago
10 Worst Earthquakes Recorded in History That Had Severe After-Effects

Natural disasters are horrifying; they take many lives, destruct life and property on the earth. One of the most common natural calamities ever noticed is an earthquake. It is nature’s most destructive force that causes an incomprehensible amount of damage in a short period.

Humans are experiencing earthquakes for nearly 5000 years. Right from the earthquake that destroyed China in 1556 AD to the earthquake that recently struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines, this calamity is the deadliest disaster recorded in history.

Several kinds of catastrophic natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, cyclones, tsunami, drought, and many others have affected the economic conditions of countries in history. Let us have a look at the worst earthquakes ever recorded in history.

1. Valdivia Earthquake – 22 May 1960

Source = Npr

The earthquake in Valdivia killed over 5700 people and injured about 3000. It was the most powerful earthquake with a 9.5 magnitude and incurred more than $1 billion worth of damages. It occurred in the afternoon and lasted only for 10 minutes.

The resulting earthquake affected Japan, Hawaii, Southeast Australia, and several other parts. Two days after the earthquake, the nearest volcano Puyehue erupted and steamed up to 6km into the atmosphere over several weeks.

Volcanoes are no doubt, the scariest marvel of nature. The eruption was noticed and reported as an explosion by the United States Air Force plane that was heading to Santiago from Puerto Montt. Check out a few volcanoes in the world that are active and attract tourists.

2. Sumatra, Indonesia – 26 December 2004

Source = Worldvision

The earthquake in Sumatra hit the seabed of the Indian Ocean with a magnitude of over 9.1 to 9.3. The after-effects of the earthquake reached Maldives and Thailand and affected thousands of lives.

In total, over 220,000 people killed. Around 1.7 million displaced in 14 countries in East Africa and South Asia. Two days after the earthquake, a mud volcano erupted near Baratang island of Andaman Island.

This volcanic eruption was thought to be associated with the earthquake. The effect is recognized as the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake. The World Food Programme provided food and other necessary things to the people affected by the calamity.

3. Tangshan, China – 28 July 1976

Source = Akg-images

The 1976 Tangshan earthquake is popularly known as the Great Tangshan earthquake. The earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 hit the region around Tangshan, Hebei, the People’s Republic of China on 28 July 1976 in the morning.

Nearly 85% of the buildings in the city were collapsed, and most of the railway bridges and highways were damaged. It was recorded that over 242,000 people died, left 15 million people homeless, making it the third deadliest and one of the worst earthquakes in history.

Do you know that Tangshan was considered to be the region with low-risk for earthquakes, so the buildings here were not earthquake-proof? This earthquake was 5 miles wide and 4 miles long and damage nearly 10 Billion Yuan.

4. Port-au-Prince, Haiti - 12 January 2010

Source = Worldatlas

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake occurred on 12 January 2010 with a magnitude of 7.0. By 24 January, nearly 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 greater had been recorded.

The earthquake left 316,000 deaths, over 10 lakh people homeless, and 30,000 injured. It was also published that 30,000 buildings were destroyed. This worst earthquake caused damage in Port-au-Prince and several cities in the region.

The National Palace and the cathedral were heavily damaged. Around 1.5 million individuals were forced to shift in internally displaced person camps (IDP). As a result, the country faced a huge loss and the greatest humanitarian need in its history.

5. Damghan Earthquake – 22 December 856 AD

Source = Amazonaws

Damghan Earthquake is one of the worst earthquakes recorded in history that killed over 200,000 people. This disaster affected the area for several years, including a damaging earthquake in western Khurasan. It was extended along the Alborz for about 345 kilometers and also affected Tashan Astan and other villages in the area.

The effects of this calamity are still visible in the area between Damghan and Bastam. The earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 is listed by the USGS as ‘the sixth deadliest earthquake in history.’

6. Kamchatka, Russia – 4 November 1952

Source = Devastatingdisasters

Three earthquakes which were noticed off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia and the Soviet Union in 1737, 1923 and 1952 caused tsunamis. It causes widespread damage in Hawaii islands. This calamity recorded the damage of US $1,000,000 and livestock losses.

The highest waves, observed on the north shore of Oahu Island, were nearly 15feet in height. A large Tsunami resulted, causing destruction and loss of life around the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka peninsula. Aftershocks were recorded in an area of 247,000kmsq at depths of 40-60km.

The earthquake that occurred in 1923 was 20 feet high when it reached Hawaii and caused locally high tsunami run-up near UST Kamchatka.

7. Sichuan, China – 8 May 2008

Source = I-scmp

This worst earthquake occurred in Sichuan with a magnitude that measured 7.9 and 8.0. The earthquake in Sichuan is considered the deadliest after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.

This injured 374,176 people, 69,197 deaths with 68,836 in Sichuan province. It was so huge that it was also felt in the far away and nearby countries like Beijing and Shanghai. Several commercial buildings were collapsed. This event caused the largest number of geohazards, including 200,000 landslides and over 800 quake lakes.

The geohazards experienced by the earthquake are thought to be responsible for 1/3rd of the death toll. The earthquake occurred 92km northwest of the city of Chengdu in eastern Sichuan province and over 1500 km from Beijing. The Chinese government followed several measures to rebuild the areas damaged by the earthquake.

8. Messina, Italy – 28 December 1908

Source = Granger

The 1908 Messina earthquake is also known as the 1908 Messina and Reggio earthquake. The earthquake was suffered in the cities of Reggio Calabria and Messina, and over 75,000 and 80,000 people lost their lives.

According to the seismologist, the earthquake was caused by a large, low-angle SE-dipping, blind normal fault, lying offshore in the strait of Messina between plates. The earthquake came with a magnitude of 7.1 and hit only for 30-40 seconds. A 12-meter tsunami hit the coasts, causing 91% of destruction in Messina. The death toll was high because several people were asleep and their houses collapsed on top of them.

After ten minutes of the earthquake, the sea on both sides of the Strait withdrew as a 39-foot tsunami swept-in, and three waves struck the coast.

9. Kanto, Japan – 1 September 1923

Source = Japansociety

The Great Kanto, Earthquake is also called The Great Tokyo Earthquake. The quake’s magnitude was recorded at 7.9 to 8.2 on the scale. The total death toll from the disaster was about 142,800. This earthquake devastated Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa and Shizuoka and caused damage throughout the Kanto region.

The initial quake was followed a few minutes later by a 40-foot tsunami. Fire and tremors together destroyed 90% of the homes in Yokohama and left nearly 60% of people homeless. In the end, the after-effects of the earthquake killed over 100,000 people and sparked both soul-searching and nationalism in Japan.

Its record was surpassed by the 2011 earthquake at a magnitude of 9.0. The fire claimed the lives of 140,000 people and destroyed 447,000 houses. Note that this figure does not include who died from tsunamis, aftershocks, and landslides.

10. Yungay, Peru - 31 May 1970

Source = Amcmuseum

It was an undersea earthquake that affected the areas of La Libertad and Ancash. This natural calamity was recorded as the worst disaster that hit Peru. It had a magnitude of 7.9 to 8.0 on the scale with an intensity of VIII, which lasted for 45 seconds.

This Great Peruvian earthquake affected 3 million people. It caused the ice and snow avalanche on the northern wall of Mount Huascaran burying the towns of Ranrahirca and Yungay, which led to the death of 20,000 people in Yungay.

It was reported that this disaster loss was more than half a billion USD with the entire communication system and necessary facilities. The current (new) city was rebuilt one mile north of the destroyed city.

Final Words

These were the worst earthquakes with high magnitude ever noticed that caused havoc in the country. Not all horrifying calamities could be mentioned. The number of people dying in the calamities today is lower than it was recorded in the past. People have now become aware of the preventive measures to be taken, and the researchers are putting their efforts to know about natural disasters to happen in the future, way before.

Have you ever experienced any natural calamity or met someone who faced these kinds of disasters? Do you know other worst earthquakes that caused loss of billions and killed thousands of people? If so, drop the location and date, we would make another post along with the measures to prevent earthquakes.


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