Throughout history, earthquakes have caused vast destruction and innumerable deaths around the globe. They strike without warning, and leave after devastating an area with landslides, structural collapses, tsunamis, and worst of all- the loss of life. The ten deadliest earthquakes have proven tragic in their death tolls:
Shensi, China (1556): On January 23, 1556, an earthquake with the seismic value of 8.0 killed 830,000 people in Shensi, China, ranking at the deadliest of all earthquakes. A combination of dense population and unstable topography of cliffs accounts for the astronomical death toll.
Tangshan, China (1976): While the city of Tangshan slept at 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976 a ten-second tremor, measuring a Richter Scale magnitude of 7.8, took the lives of 255,000 people and injured over 140,000. The initial tremor, followed by a 7.8 aftershock several hours later caused sinkholes, multiple landslides, and total devastation to the city.
Indian Ocean Earthquake (2004): Memories of the terror and devastation caused by this December 26, 2004 underwater quake will forever haunt the world. In total, 230,210 people were killed by the tsunamis along the Indian Ocean Coast, with the highest death tolls recorded in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia. The 9.3 magnitude, in combination with the ten minute length of this quake caused the planet to vibrate. Due to the fifty foot slip along the 994 mile fault line of the India and Burma Plates, over seven cubic miles of water was moved, hence the occurrence of tsunamis along the coast.
Aleppo, Syria (1138): With a magnitude of 8.5, an earthquake struck the city of Aleppo on August 9,1138, killing 230,000 residents. The large Syrian city lays on the northern part of the Dead Sea Rift. The 1138 tremor was the first of many within that century.
Haiyuan, China (1920): The exact number of casualties resulting from this disaster is unknown, yet was in the range of 220,000-240,000 people spanning across two counties. The Richter Scale magnitude was estimated to be between 7.8 and 8.5. As a result of the tremors, landslides occurred, burying homes and people, completely destroying the entire area.
Damghan, Iran (856 B.C.): On December 22, 856 B.C. Damghan was a struck by an earthquake killing 200,000.
Ardabil, Iran (893 B.C.): On March 23, 893 B.C. 150,000 lives were taken. In 1997, another earthquake struck Ardabil, killing 960 people.
Kanto, Japan (1923): A 8.3 magnitude quake hit on September 1, 1923, killing upwards of 100,000. In combination with the earthquake a typhoon struck causing fires throughout the region, which accounted for many deaths. In addition, a tsunami later hit the coast destroying homes and leaving over a million people homeless by the end of it all.
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1948): October 5, 1948 left 110,000 dead due to a 7.3 magnitude tremor. The area suffered great damage with a collapse of infrastructure and buildings.
Messina, Italy (1908): Messina, Sicily was struck by a 7,5 magnitude tremor that lasted about forty seconds. Shortly after. a forty-foot tsunami struck the coast of Messina and neighboring coastal villages. In total, 100,000 people lost to the destruction on December 28, 1908.