Top 10 Most Deadly Earthquakes of History

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Natural Calamities are a part and parcel of life on earth. There is a lot destruction of lives and property due to floods, earthquakes, landslides, storms, cyclones etc. Earthquakes are nothing but the shifting of plates below the surface of earth which is a natural phenomenon and their detection is very difficult. But scientists have produced and invented technology that can possibly detect earthquakes much before to save the lives of people in prone area. Over the years earthquakes have been causing mass destruction all over the globe and we can find their mentioning in ancient books as well. Here below I have tried to compile the top ten deadliest earthquakes known in the history of mankind according to the number of deaths occurred due to them.


1. Shaanxi, China (1556)

Shaanxi, China

Another Chinese earthquake and yet again a massive destruction of life. The magnitude was about 8, still high enough to collapse present day structures so one can imagine the amount of destruction it must have caused during 16th century. China has witnessed many deadly and dangerous earthquakes over the years but this one was the most deadly. Killing almost 830,000 people and destroying whole of the province. Its effects were felt even in Liuyang which is almost 500 miles away. According to reports and geological survey during that time the effect were such severe that there were ground fissures, subsidence, liquefaction and landslides. According to claims an area of about 300 miles was wiped out completely and the major casualties were due to the massive landslide which followed the earthquake.

Time and again earthquakes have proved to be one of the dangerous and feared natural disasters as they can bring along with them a tsunami or a land slide. The current developments in technology give us some time to vacate the prone areas of seismic activity during danger.

Stay Safe!


2. Tangshan, China (1976)

Tangshan, China

Well known as the “Great Tangshan Earthquake” measured around 7.8 on Richter scale. The epicenter was somewhere in Northeastern China but it will be safe to assume it as a binary quake because two similar tremors of 7.8 each were felt within a space of 16 hours. Both were equally destructive and people didn’t have enough time to recover from the first and be safe by the time of another tremor. The country refused for any sort of international aid and hence the actual survey reports were disclosed and hence flawed when released. But according to very reliable sources the actual death toll was around 700,000. But the reports from China suggested that there were 250,000 casualties only.


3. The Indian Ocean (2004)

The Indian Ocean

The largest earthquake in over 40 years and third largest since 1900 measuring around 9.2 hit the bottom of the Indian Ocean on Christmas. Tremors lasted for about 10 minutes. This resulted in altering of the earth’s axis and a tsunami about 100 feet high smashed Sumatra. In all 14 countries were affected by it. The official toll was 227,898. About 1.7 million people were displaced by the earthquake and the following tsunami across East Asia and Southern Africa.


4. Aleppo, Syria (1138)

Aleppo, Syria

Historical accounts suggest that the amount of destruction huge and walls of the second largest city of Syria kept collapsing. Rocks kept falling from higher lands and hills surrounding the city. It was first of the many quakes to have hit the region between 1138 and 1139. Due to lack of technology in that century the actual measurement on Richter scale is not known but the effects were felt even 220 miles south in the city of Damascus. The death toll is supposed to be about 230,000. Many Muslim and Christian army citadels were destroyed due to this severe earthquake. Many forts, nearby towns and castles were reduced to rubble.


5. Haiyuan, China (1920)

Haiyuan, China

The third Chinese earthquake to feature on this list. Well this proves a fact that China is one of the most earthquake prone areas along with japan where tremors are felt very regularly. The Haiyuang earthquake measured about 7.8 on Richter scale and claimed almost 200,000 lives. But many other reports suggest the tremor was as high as 8.5 and the toll is 240,000. Another example of flawed reports presented to the world by China. The tremor was so strong that it was felt across Europe and the rivers were forced to flow in reverse due to it. This earthquake was also followed by a landslide which buried the town of Sujiahe completely.


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