As we all know that earthquakes occur due to the release of energy from the earth’s crust which results in the formation of seismic waves which travel on the surface of the earth giving rise to temblors. The intensity of earthquakes is measured by different scales and the activity of any earthquake is recorded on a seismograph. Over the history of mankind thousands and more earthquake have occurred all over the world which have destroyed many lives. Some of the earthquakes are not very severe but some others are massively damaging both in terms of destruction of life and property. Earthquakes can be more destructive if the epicenter is inside the sea as it gives rise to tsunamis which can cause more destruction. Among the most dangerous earthquakes ever reported on earth the top 10 are mentioned below.
10: Kanto, Japan, Sept. 1, 1923
Though, Kanto earthquake stands in the tenth position in our list it was not less devastating than the others. As Japan is one of the most prone areas to earthquake as people built their houses with paper and wood, this was the only reason that the death toll in this region was lesser than the others mentioned on the list. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake shook the grounds of Tokyo on 1 September in the year 1923. This earthquake created a massive havoc on land as well as giving rise to massive tsunamis which rose to heights of 40 feet. The structures came down to the ground in minutes after the first temblor was felt. The main area that was devastated is Tokyo- Yokohama region. The earthquake was followed by firestorms that burnt many houses. Many people died due to fire disasters as the earthquake came during the lunch time when people were using fire to cook the food. The death toll from this massive earthquake was 142,800.
9: Ardabil, Iran, March. 23, 893 AD
Thirty seven years later after the Damghan earthquake ( refer to point 8) Iran was again hit by a very destructive earthquake and left the country moaning. The earthquake engulfed the lives of 150,000 people this time. It struck the largest city of northwestern Iran on 23 March 1893. Iran again saw a damaging earthquake, though many years later in 1997. This part of the country is considered to be an active region in terms of earthquake activities and hence people are advised not to inhibit this place.
8. Damghan, 22 Dec 856 AD
The Damghan Earthquake struck on 22 December 856 AD. The magnitude was recorded to be 7.9. The epicenter was located near Damghan the then capital of Qumis. According to the death toll, this is the the sixth deadliest earthquake. It killed over 200,000 people. Many villages were entirely damaged and few cities collapsed too. The earthquake destroyed the entire city of Damghan and also the area surrounding it. The aftershocks of this earthquake were felt for several years.
7: Aleppo, Syria, Aug. 9, 1138
The Aleppo earthquake is named after the Aleppo city in Syria as the maximum devastation due to the earthquake was recorded here. It struck Syria on 9 August in the year 1138. It is said that walls of Aleppo collapsed and the streets were flooded with rocks. The death toll due to this earthquake was recorded to be 230,000. It not only affected Syria but some parts of Turkey too. There was an initial quake felt few days before the main one occurred. The aftershocks of this earthquake were felt for few days after the main earthquake settled. The damage to lives was reduced as people were already warned about the quake.
6: Sumatra, Indonesia, Dec. 26, 2004
The day after the Christmas in the year 2004 proved to be a sorrowful day for the people residing in fourteen countries including India and Sumatra. If the magnitude is considered, it is the third most dangerous earthquake on earth. The place was struck by a devastating earthquake which killed many lives. The death toll was around 227,898. The earthquake not only devastated the land but also altered the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This resulted in dangerous tsunamis which struck Sumatra hence increasing the death toll. The disaster mainly affected Indonesia followed by India, Sri Lanka as well as Thailand. There were many aftershocks seen near the epicenter and even in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the following days.
5: Antioch, 526AD
This earthquake shook the ground of Syria and Antioch in 526 AD. It devastated the land during May which took the lives of around 250,000 human beings. The earthquake became more dangerous as it initiated a fire which destroyed more structures and killed more people. The magnitude of the earthquake was recorded to be 7. The earthquake was so dangerous that many buildings collapsed leaving behind the houses that were close to the foot of the hill. The after shocks of this earthquake were felt for another 18 months. The major damage to the structures was caused due to the fires which increased and became more dangerous due to the winds. The death toll was so high as there were tourist from all around the country who came here to celebrate the famous Ascension Day.
4: Tangshan, China, July 27, 1976
On the disastrous day of 28 July in the year 1976 an earthquake rocked the northeastern part of China. It is known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake and its recorded magnitude was 7.8. It was one of the most devastating earthquakes according to the number of people killed. The epicenter of this earthquake was in Tangshan, China. According to the reports around 255,000 people were killed in this earthquake which is the second largest death toll in the history of the recorded earthquakes and around 164,000 people were injured. The earthquake was so severe that it even affected Beijing.
3: Haiyuan, Ningxia , China, Dec. 16, 1920
Ningxia-Gansu saw a very devastating earthquake on 16 Dec in the year 1920 having a magnitude of around 7.8. Popularly known as the 1920 Gansu Earthquake, this devastating earthquake led to a high damage of both life and property. The temblors from this earthquake were so powerful that they were sensed even in parts of Europe. The numbers of death recorded due to it were 200,000. Seven provinces of China were damaged by this earthquake which resulted in cities burying down the land. Many landslides occurred due to the high intensity of this earthquake which resulted in more deaths. Due to the earthquake and the resulting landslides many rivers were blocked and some even changed their direction.
2: Haiti, Jan 12, 2010
The sudden shivering and trembling of ground in Haiti on 12 Jan in the year 2010 resulted into a catastrophic earthquake. The damage due to this earthquake was very high. Not only did people lose their lives but many were injured and many lost their houses and were displaced. The estimated death toll was 222,570. The epicenter of the earthquake was Leogane. As many of you might be aware that Haiti is among the poorest countries in the world and have a history of some of the deadliest earthquakes recorded. Not only the country is vulnerable to earthquakes but other natural disasters like tropical cyclones have frequently damaged the country. There were eight aftershocks after the main earthquake came. Two weeks later due to the earthquake a tsunami was recorded which killed two people.
1: Shaanxi, China, Jan. 23, 1556
The most dangerous earthquake ever recorded in the history of mankind has been Shaanxi. This earthquake had a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale. This devastating earthquake struck China on the evil day of 23 Jan in the year 1556 engulfing the lives of about eight lakh people. The main reason for such a high number of deaths was that the earthquake came in a very populated region of China where people were living along the hillside. Many people died as they got buried inside the buildings, more specifically the poorly constructed houses while many got buried in the debris and the mud from the landslides which occurred due to the earthquake. the magnitude itself suggests that this earthquake was a very dangerous one.