Earthquakes are caused by the natural movements of the shifts that occur in the plates of the Earth fall beneath the surface of the land. Not all of them cause any damage. especially those that occur out to sea. In areas where earthquakes rarely happen, they can strike without warning taking everyone by surprise.
Even though the magnitude of an earthquake can be measured on the Richter scale, they strike without warning and it is impossible to predict when one will occur. There have been earthquakes of great magnitude that have not resulted in any loss of life because they have not occurred in densely populated areas. It is the number of people killed as a result of an earthquake that deems it as a deadly one.
The top ten deadliest recorded earthquakes are:
1. The earthquake that hit Ardabil, Iran on March 23, 893 killed about 150,000 people. Little is known about this quake and there is no magnitude listed because it was before the development of the system of recording the size and magnitude of earthquakes.
2. An earthquake hit Aleppo, Syria in 1138, with a resulting death toll of 230,000.
3. On January 23, 1556, an earthquake hit the Shaanxi province in China. This quake had a magnitude of 8 and killed approximately 830,000 people. Over 97 counties of the province were affected and an area of about 840 km was destroyed. At that time most of the population actually lived in caves and when the mountains collapsed, so did the caves, killing those inside.
4. The magnitude of the earthquake that hit Damghan, Iran on December 22, 1856 is unknown. However, approximately 200,000 people lost their lives in this quake.
5. Messina, Italy was the scene of a deadly earthquake on December 28, 1908 with a magnitude of 7.2 and killing about 100,000 people.
6. The earthquake that hit Gansu, China on December 16, 1920 was a very powerful one. It measured 8.2 on the Richter scale and the death toll amounted to 200,000.
7. Kwanto, Japan was the scene of a deadly earthquake on September 1, 1923. This quake was even stronger than that of Gansu, measuring a magnitude of 8.3. 143,000 people were killed in this earthquake.
8. China was once again hit with a deadly earthquake on May 22 1927, when a quake destroyed the buildings in Xining. This earthquake measured 7.2 and took the lives of 200,000 people.
9. On October 5, 1948, an earthquake measuring 7.3 devastated the area of Ashgabet, Turkmenistan in what was then known as the USSR. The death toll amounted to 110,000.
10. The reported number of casualties from the earthquake that rocked Tangshan, China on July 28, 1976 are said to be about 242,000. However, experts believe that the actual numbers are higher than this because of the magnitude of 7.5 in a very densely populated area of the country.
There have been deadly quakes since that time, with the latest occurring just recently in Italy. The numbers of people killed in this quake have not been completely reported just yet.