11 Strongest Earthquakes That Ever Occurred
From the ground shaking and ripping apart to enormous tsunamis, here are 11 of the strongest earthquakes ever.
11. Great Hanshin Earthquake
Over 45,000 people became homeless and nearly six-and-a-half-thousand perished in the Great Hanshin earthquake that struck near Kobe, Japan on January 17, 1995. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake was one of the worst such disasters in Japan’s history, with damages amounting to over $100 billion.
10. Haiti Earthquake
Until 2010, the Great Hanshin earthquake was the costliest such disaster in human history. This changed when, on January 12 that year, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest country. It’s the most devastating natural disaster the country has ever experienced, adding to decades-long political, economic, and social strife.
9. Tangshan Earthquake
In the early morning on July 28, 1976, the Chinese industrial city of Tangshan, then home to around one million residents, was flattened by an earthquake with a magnitude measuring between 7.8 and 8.2. It was one of the deadliest earthquakes in history, killing an estimated 242,000 people and injuring around 160,000 in Tangshan and the surrounding region, most of whom were asleep in their beds when the disaster struck.
8. San Francisco Earthquake
A devastating earthquake with an estimated 8.0 magnitude ravaged San Francisco on April 18, 1906. Caused by a 275-mile-long (443 km) segment slipping along the San Andreas fault, the disaster claimed around 3,000 lives and toppled numerous buildings.
7. Shaanxi Earthquake
Around 830,000 people are thought to have perished in China’s Shaanxi province in 1556, when an earthquake with an estimated 8.0-8.3 magnitude struck, making it the deadliest such disaster of all time. It struck during the late evening, with aftershocks continuing into the morning.
6. 2010 Chile Earthquake
As people in Concepcion, Chile and other nearby coastal cities lay asleep in their beds at 3:34 A.M. on February 27, 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake shook the region, affecting over two million people and killing around 300, although the numbers remain unclear to this day.
5. 2011 Japan Earthquake
On March 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck 231 miles (372 km) northeast of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, occurring 15.2 miles (24.5 km) below ground. It was the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan, sparking a massive tsunami that damaged several of the area’s nuclear reactors.
4. 1952 Severo-Kurilsk Earthquake
On November 5, 1952, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, triggering a massive tsunami measuring 50 feet (15.24 meters) high. It was the most destructive earthquake in Russian history, and the sixth most powerful quake ever recorded.
3. Indian Ocean Earthquake
At around eight in the morning on December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the northwest coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Within a half-hour, tsunami waves measuring over 100 feet high (30.5 meters) slammed into the Banda Aceh coast, virtually wiping out its buildings and infrastructure, and taking around 170,000 lives.
2. Alaska Earthquake
North America’s strongest-ever recorded earthquake struck on March 27, 1964 roughly 74 miles (119 km) southeast of Anchorage in Prince William Sound. The 9.2-magnitude quake was felt throughout most of Alaska’s mainland, as well as 1,200 miles (1,931 km) away in Seattle, where it shook the city’s famed Space Needle, and it was instrumentally detected in almost all U.S. states.
1. 1960 Valdivia Earthquake
Coastal Chile is known for its deadly earthquakes — since 1973, over 13 earthquakes with a 7.0 magnitude or higher have been recorded in the region. But the largest earthquake ever recorded by instruments, both regionally and in the world, happened in May 1960 off the southern Chilean coast, claiming somewhere between 490 and 5,700 lives and unleashing a tsunami that swept across the Pacific, hitting Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines.