The biggest earthquake recorded since 1900 had a magnitude of 9.5 on the Richter scale. It occurred in Chile on May 22, 1960. 2,000 people were killed and over 2 million became homeless. The strongest quake in the US registered 9.2 and hit Alaska on March 28, 1964.
Greatest Earthquake Death Toll
In terms of death toll, the greatest on record was the earthquake in Shaanxi, China. It took place in 1556 and killed over 830,000 people. An earthquake in 526 in Antioch (in the Byzantine Empire) killed over 250,000. Their magnitudes were unknown.
An earthquake in Tangshan, China in 1976 killed 245,000. Another one of the biggest earthquakes occurred in Haiyuan, also in China in 1920. It killed over 240,000.
Records show a quake hit Aleppo, Syria in 1138 and killed 230,000 people. The 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed over 229,866 people. The greatest affected places were Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. The earthquake triggered the tsunamis that killed thousands of people.
Iran suffered two deadly quakes in a span of less than 50 years. The 856 earthquake in Damghan killed 200,000. In 893 another quake struck, this time in Ardabil. Over 150,000 perished.
The biggest earthquake to hit Turkmenistan (in terms of casualties) was the 1948 Ashbagat quake, killing 110,000 people. Over 105,000 died in the Great Kanto quake in Japan.
Italy’s worst earthquake hit Messina in 1908, killing 100,000. An earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal in 1755 led to the deaths of over 100,000. A similar number of people were killed in Chihli, China in 1260.
In 2005, an earthquake hit Kashmir and killed over 86,000. The same number of people died in the Great Ansei Nankai quakes in Japan (1854). 80,000 died in Azerbajan in a 1667 earthquake.
Well Known and Recent Earthquakes
Here are some more of the most renowned and biggest earthquakes in recent times. The 2008 quake in Sichuan, China killed over 70,000. The 1990 Manji, Iran quake killed 35,000, while the 2003 Bam quake (also in Iran) killed over 30,000. The 2001 Gujarat quake in India
killed over 20,000.
The 1999 Izmti, Turkey quake killed 17,118. The well known San Francisco earthquake of 1906 killed 3,000. The same number was killed in 1933 in the Sanriku, Japan quake.
Most Powerful Earthquakes Recorded
These refer to the strength of the quakes, not the number of people killed. The 1960 Chile quake is the strongest recorded at 9.5, followed by the tremor in Alaska (9.2).
This was followed by the quake off northern Sumatra in 2004 (magnitude 9.1). A quake with a magnitude of 9 was recorded off Kamchatka in 1952. A quake measuring 8.8 was detected off Ecuador in 1906. An 8.7 magnitude was felt in Alaska in 1965, while an 8.6 quake was recorded off northern Sumatra, Indonesia in 2005.
This list of the biggest earthquakes shows that despite the passage of centuries, people still suffer its effects. For all the technological improvements and innovations, prediction of this disaster remains elusive.