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1970: Chimbote, Peru
The Great Peruvian Earthquake hit the coastal town of
Chimbote, Peru on May 31, 1970 — measuring a 7.9
magnitude on the Richter scale.
The epicenter of the quake was 15 miles away from the city, in
the Pacific Ocean, yet the disaster claimed the lives of some
70,000 people and left more than 800,000 homeless.
Landslides, with debris traveling at speeds of up to 200 mph
down the sides of the Navado Huascaran mountain, destroyed
whole villages. Tremors could be felt in Lima — some 400 miles
70,000 people were killed or presumed dead on May 31, 1970, when a 7.9 earthquake hit Chimbote, Peru.
1908: Messina, Italy
By today's standards, the earthquake that struck beneath the
Messina Strait — which separates the regions of Sicily and
Calabria — on December 28, 1908, was a magnitude 7.5.
A subsequent tsunami sent waves as much as 40 feet high
crashing into the Italian coast. More than 123.000 people were
killed and dozens of towns destroyed. Refugees from Messina
were relocated to cities throughout Italy.
Many were eventually transported to North America, aboard
ships like the Florida — which, before reaching New York City,
collided with another vessel, killing three already traumatized
123.000 people were killed by a magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Messina, Italy, more than 40% of the city's population was killed. The December 28, 1908, quake caused
a tsunami and was felt throughout Sicily.
2005: Kashmir, Pakistan
Kashmir, the site of a prolonged and violent border dispute
between India and Pakistan, is beleaguered enough;
a massive earthquake on Oct. 8, 2005 only added to the
province's woes. Measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, the
quake killed 100,000 and left millions more homeless. The
remote, mountainous terrain compounded problems for
rescue and recovery efforts, as crews struggled to reach the
100.000 people were killed on October 8, 2005, when a magnitude-7.6 earthquake slammed northern Pakistan. The heaviest damage occurred in parts of Kashmir,
where entire villages were destroyed.
2008: Sichuan Province, China
Over 87,000 people died in China's deadly 2008 earthquake, and
an estimated 10 million were left homeless.
The 7.9-magnitude disaster struck the mountainous Sichuan
Province in western China, destroying millions of buildings and
causing an estimated $86 billion worth of damage.
Nearly 10,000 children died in schools — trapped under rubble
when the buildings collapsed — leading to public outcry and a
government investigation that found that as many as 20 percent of
primary schools may have been shoddily constructed and unsafe.
Grieving parents' initial calls for justice, however, have been
silenced to a large extent by intimidation and alleged payoffs.
The magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck eastern Sichuan, China on May 12, 2008, killed 87,587 people and was felt in parts of Bangladesh, Taiwan, Thailand and
In a matter of minutes, an October earthquake measuring 7.3
turned the city of Ashgabat into a pile of rubble.
A thousand Soviet doctors, nurses and other medical personnel
flooded in from Moscow and other cities to aid sufferers in what is
Despite their efforts, 110,000 people perished.
The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake, at a magnitude 7.3 Mw, occurred at 1:12 in the morning on 6 October 1948, near Ashgabat, in the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic.
Almost all the brick buildings in Ashgabat, collapsed and 110,000 people were killed.
1923: Kanto, Japan
Shortly before noon on September 1, 1923, an earthquake
measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale sent shockwaves through the
Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area. The violent tremors left few
buildings habitable and prompted a tsunami that surged up to 40 ft.
(12 m.) high.
But the damage continued for days: by the time the fires stemming
from the quake were contained, 90% of Yokohama's buildings were
reportedly damaged or in ruins, and some two-fifths of Tokyo's had
been destroyed — leaving half its population homeless.
Nearly 143,000 people died.
A 7.9 earthquake in the Tokyo-Yokohama area of Japan killed 142,800. The quake, which took place on September 1, 1923, caused firestorms and generated a
1920: Haiyuan, China
The Dec. 16, 1920 Haiyuan earthquake — which registered a 7.8
magnitude on the Richter scale — caused rivers to change course
and sent landslides pouring down mountains.
Destruction stretched across seven Chinese provinces. Sujiahe, a
town in in Xiji County, was completely buried under a landslide.
An estimated 200,000 people died in the disaster, which was felt as
far away as Norway.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Haiyuan County, China, on December 16, 1920. Here, Muslims pray outside a mosque
in Haiyuan in 2007.
2004: Indian Ocean Tsunami
On Dec. 26, 2004 a 9.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the bottom of
the Indian Ocean, releasing energy equivalent to that of 23,000
The largest earthquake in 40 years, the Sumatra-Andaman
earthquake (so named because the epicenter was near the west
coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra) launched a tsunami across
the Indian Ocean, sending a series of waves as high as 50 feet
crashing onto the shores of 11 countries.
Some people were swept out to sea while others drowned in their
homes, unable to escape. According to the U.S. Geological survey,
the official death toll was 227,898.
227,898 people were killed on December 26, 2004, when a magnitude-9.1. quake hit Sumatra. This was the third-largest earthquake measured since 1900. Almost 2
million people were displaced by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.
1976: Tangshan, China
China has the misfortune to have had the second deadliest
earthquake on record, the 1976 Great Tangshan Earthquake, which
struck in the country's northeast. It'd be more accurate to call this a
binary quake: an aftershock that struck 16 hours after the initial
temblor measured an identical 7.8 on the Richter scale and was
Death estimates are hard to pin down — initial reports placed the toll
at nearly 700,000, but those have since been revised down to some
250,000. Compounding the massive casualty count was the decision
by the Chinese government to accept no international aid in the
aftermath of the quakes.
On July 27, 1976, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake killed an estimated 242,769 people in Tangshan, China. Unofficial estimates put the toll at much higher, perhaps
2010: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale,
with an epicenter near Leogane, 25 km west of its capital, Port-au-
Prince. It struck on January 12, 2010 where at least 52 aftershocks
measuring 4.5 or greater could still be felt even 12 days later.
The earthquake left a devastating wake of 316,000 deaths, 300,000
injured and 1,000,000 people homeless.
It was estimated that 250,000 houses and 30,000 commercial
buildings had collapsed or were severely destroyed.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne (Ouest Department), approximately 25
kilometres west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. An estimated three million
people were affected by the quake.