Earthquake is among the most destructive natural disasters. The world have witnessed numerous earthquakes over the centuries. The magnitude of an earthquake is measured in Richter scale. Here we look at the top 5 strongest earthquakes in world history.
1. Valdivia, Chile, 1960
On 22nd May 1960, the residents of Valdivia and surrounding places in Southern Chile witnessed the strongest ever earthquake in history. In the earthquake that recorded 9.5 on Richter scale, 1655 persons lost their lives. Nearly two millions people were displaced. The ensuing tsunami wreaked further havoc, affecting as far as the coasts of Japan and The Philippines. More than two hundred were killed in the catastrophe. Two days after the quake, the volcano Puyehue in Chile erupted, spewing ashes up to 6 km high for a number of weeks. Chile is estimated to have suffered a damage worth $550 million in the tragedy.
2. Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1964
In the evening of 27th March, Alaska was hit by the second largest earthquake in world history. The quake, with a magnitude of 9.2, was centered around the Prince William Sound, and continued for about three minutes. Compared to the magnitude, the damage was on lower scale, though 128 people died in the subsequent tsunami that reached as far as Hawaii. The city of Anchorage, situated about 120 km away from the epicenter, suffered the major share of the catastrophe, where huge landslides took place. The damage was estimated to be worth $311 million.
3. Sumatra, Indonesia, 2004
This was one of the worst earthquakes ever, both in terms of magnitude and destruction. The quake, with epicenter off the coast of Sumatra island , hit on the Boxing Day of 2004, triggering the most destructive tsunamis ever. The magnitude of the earthquake was recorded 9.1. 14 countries in Asia and East Africa
suffered damages, Indonesia being the one to cope with the worst. Around 2,30,000 people were killed, and millions were displaced. The fishing industries of various countries took a major hit and it left the countries a lot poorer. Sri Lanka and India were the other countries that got affected the hardest.
4. Tohoku, Japan, 2011
An earthquake measuring 9.0 hit the Eastern Japan on 11th March, 2011, resulting in the biggest catastrophe in the country after the 1945 nuclear bombings. The epicenter was about 70 km away from Tohoku. It was the largest earthquake to hit Japan, which lies in an earthquake-prone region and experience daily tremors. The casualties were estimated to be 15893 and thousands of people lost homes. The quake resulted in a slight displacement of the Honshu island and a shift in Earth’s axis. The quake also caused heavy damages to some nuclear reactors, notably those at Fukushima power plant. With an estimated loss of $235 billion, it is regarded to be the most expensive natural disaster in history.
5. Kamchatka, Russia, 1952
This was the first earthquake to hit the 9.0 mark in recorded history, although it was initially assigned an 8.2. The epicenter of the quake, hit on 4rh November, was off Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. The tsunami that followed caused widespread destruction in the peninsula and Kuril Islands, leaving more than 2,000 people dead. Hawaii was among the most affected by the tsunami that caused losses worth a million U.S. dollars. Miraculously, no human casualties were reported there. An unlucky farmer from Oahu lost his six cows to the giant waves.