Geology And Geophysics

Deadliest Earthquakes on Record



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Each year there are more than 1.5 million earthquakes. The majority are small, going unnoticed by humans. Some cause minimal damage, while others are powerful enough to devastate and completely destroy large areas. They cause not only property damage but take a high toll in human lives.

Top 10 Deadliest Quakes

10.) Name- Kashmir

Location- India and North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P.), Pakistan

Date- October 8, 2005

Magnitude- 7.6 or 7.8

Death Toll- 100,000 estimated, 80,000 official

Facts- The epicenter of the earthquake was in Azad Kashmir and N.W.F.P.

- 106,000 others were injured

9.) Name- Ashgabat

Location- Ashgabat Turkmenistan

Date- October 6, 1948

Magnitude- 7.3

Death Toll- 110,000

Facts- Caused extreme damage in Ashgabat and nearby villages, collapsing almost all of the brick buildings, heavily damaging concrete structures and derailing freight trains.

- A 2007 report by State News Agency of Turkmenistan raised the death toll to 176,000.

8.) Name- Great Kanto

Location- Kanto Region Japan

Date- September 1, 1923

Magnitude- 8.3

Death Toll- 143,000

Facts- The earthquake lasted between 4-10 minutes.

-Caused a great deal of damage on the main Japanese island of Hanshi, devastating Tokyo.

-It managed to move the 93 ton Great Buddha statue, sliding it forward almost two feet.

7.) Name-Ardabil

Location- Ardabil Iran

Date- March 23, 893

Magnitude- 7.6

Death Toll- 150,000

6.) Name- Damghan

Location- Damghan Iran

Date- December 22, 856

Magnitude: 8.0

Death Toll- 200,000

Facts- The epicenter was located in Damghan and destroyed areas as far as 200 miles away.

5.) Name- Gansu

Location- Ningxia-Gansu China

Date- December 16, 1920

Magnitude- 7.8

Death Toll- 200,000 - 240,000

Facts- The epicenter was located in Haiyun County, Ningxia.

- Nearly all houses collapsed in the cities of Lorgde and Huining.

- In the Lijuinbu-Haiyuan-Ganyanchi area there was total destruction.

- More than 73,000 people were killed in Haiyuan alone.

4.) Name- Aleppo

Location- Aleppo Syria

Date- October 11, 1138

Magnitude- 8.5

Death Toll- 230,000

3.) Name- Indian Ocean

Location- Sumatra Indonesia

Date- December 26, 2004

Magnintude- 9.3

Death Toll- 230,210

Facts- An undersea earthquake, the epicenter was located off the west coast of Sumatra Indonesia.

- The Indian Ocean quake caused a tsunami along the coasts of most of the land masses bordering the Indian Ocean.

- With waves up to 100 feet (30 meters) high, more than 225,000 people were killed in 11 cities.

- This quake is the second largest ever recorded and has the longest duration of faulting ever observed, lasting between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It triggered earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

2.) Name- Great Tangshan Earthquake

Location- Tangshan China

Date- July 27, 1976

Magnitude- 7.5

Death Toll- 255,000

Facts- The epicenter was located near Tangshan in Hebei, Peoples Republic of China.

- Hitting in the early morning and lasting only 10 seconds it is considered the largest of the 20th century by death toll.

- An additional 164,000 people were severly injured.

- Sixteen hours after the major quake, the area was hit by a major 7.8 aftershock increasing the death toll.

1.) Name- Shaanxi

Location- Shaanxi China

Date- January 23, 1556

Magnintude- 8.0

Death Toll- 830,000

Facts- The deadliest earthquake on record.

- Occuring in the morning, an area 520 miles (840 km) wide was destroyed.

- More than 97 counties were affected and in some of these counties up to 60% of the population was killed.

- At the time, the majority of the population lived in Yasdongs (artifical caves in the Loess cliffs). Many of these collapsed during the quake increasing the death toll.

- The epicenter was located in the Wei River Valley in the Shaanxi Province near the cities of Huaxian, Weinan and Huayin.

- In Huaxian, every single building and home was demolished and more than half the residents in the city were killed causing the death toll to be estimated in the tens of thousands.

- The cost of this catastrophic event is impossible to measure in modern terms. Today the cost would be equal to the detonation of a nuclear weapon.

Although earthquakes of this magnitude and with this high a death toll aren't common they do happen. Thankfully not every quake results in the loss of life, especially with numbers like these and those of many others. The loss of even one life is one to many.

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