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Deadliest earthquakes and tsunamis of the past century

06 february 2013, 15:22
0

The 20th century was marred by numerous deadly earthquakes that claimed lives of many thousands of people and flattened several towns around the world.

After 1900 most earthquakes have some degree of instrumental records and this means that the locations and magnitudes are more reliable than for earlier events.

An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves.

Magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes are mostly almost imperceptible or weak and magnitude 7 and over potentially cause serious damage over larger areas, depending on their depth. The largest earthquakes in historic times have been of magnitude slightly over 9, although there is no limit to the possible magnitude.

The most recent large earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or larger was a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in 2011 (as of October 2012), and it was the largest Japanese earthquake since records began.

Earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 and greater since 1900. The apparent 3D volumes of the bubbles are linearly proportional to their respective fatalities. Photo by USGS©

Earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 and greater since 1900. The apparent 3D volumes of the bubbles are linearly proportional to their respective fatalities. Photo by USGS©

At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground. When the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, and occasionally volcanic activity.

Below is a list of the world's deadliest earthquakes, including quake-induced tsunamis, over the past century:

- 2013: Solomon Islands: Three villages were reportedly flattened Wednesday when a tsunami triggered by an 8.0-magnitude quake crashed ashore.

©AFP PHOTO / WORLD VISION

Damaged houses in the village of Venga in the Santa Cruz Islands region of the Solomon Islands. ©AFP PHOTO / WORLD VISION

- 2011: Japan: more than 19,000 were killed when a tsunami triggered by an undersea quake slammed into the northeast coast, triggering a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant. Magnitude 9.0.

Japan's Emperor Akihito (L) and Empress Michiko visit at an area which was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Soma, Fukushima prefecture. ©REUTERS/Issei Kato

Japan's Emperor Akihito (L) and Empress Michiko visit at an area which was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Soma, Fukushima prefecture. ©REUTERS/Issei Kato

- 2010: Haiti: between 250,000 and 300,000 killed when a quake hits what is already one of the world's poorest countries, devastating the capital Port-au-Prince. Magnitude 7.0.

Destroyed buildings are seen after a major earthquake hit the capital Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010. ©REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Destroyed buildings are seen after a major earthquake hit the capital Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010. ©REUTERS/Carlos Barria

- 2008: Sichuan province, China: 87,000 dead or missing. A large number of children are among the dead, with shoddily-built schools blamed. Magnitude 8.0.

Residents look through the remains of their apartment block that collapsed after an earthquake shook the area in the city of Dujiangyan, located around 50 km (31 miles) north of Chengdu in Sichuan Province May 13, 2008. ©REUTERS/David Gray

Residents look through the remains of their apartment block that collapsed after an earthquake shook the area in the city of Dujiangyan, located around 50 km (31 miles) north of Chengdu in Sichuan Province May 13, 2008. ©REUTERS/David Gray

- 2005: Indian and Pakistani Kashmir: at least 75,000 killed with poor construction in the mountainous region accounting for the high death toll. Magnitude 7.6.

Pakistani rescue workers gather at the site of a building collapse in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir, October 9, 2005. ©REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Pakistani rescue workers gather at the site of a building collapse in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir, October 9, 2005. ©REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

- 2004: Indian Ocean: more than 226,000 died when a tsunami sparked by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia hit countries around the Indian Ocean. Magnitude 9.1.

An aerial view of the ruins of a housing complex in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh after a quake-triggered tsunami hit the area. ©REUTERS/Beawiharta

An aerial view of the ruins of a housing complex in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh after a quake-triggered tsunami hit the area. ©REUTERS/Beawiharta

- 2003: Iran: More than 30,000 killed in and around the city of Bam, with mud-built homes blamed for the level of destruction. Magnitude 6.6.

An Iranian rescue worker watches over ruins in the earthquake devastated town of Bam, south-eastern Iran, December 28, 2003. ©REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

An Iranian rescue worker watches over ruins in the earthquake devastated town of Bam, south-eastern Iran, December 28, 2003. ©REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

- 2001: India: More than 20,000 killed when a quake hits Gujarat on India's Republic Day holiday. Magnitude 7.7.

An aerial picture shows the villagers amidst their destroyed homes in Jikadi in the western Indian state of Gujarat on February 2, 2001. ©REUTERS

An aerial picture shows the villagers amidst their destroyed homes in Jikadi in the western Indian state of Gujarat on February 2, 2001. ©REUTERS

- 1990: Iran: 50,000 dead when quake hits in the northwest of the country near the Caspian Sea. Magnitude 7.4.

- 1976: Tangshan, Hebei Province, China: officials said 242,000 people died, although some Western sources said the toll was higher. Magnitude 7.8.

A resident lays flowers for victims who died in Tangshan earthquake on a memorial wall in Tangshan, in north China's Hebei province. ©CHINA OUT REUTERS/China Daily

A resident lays flowers for victims who died in Tangshan earthquake on a memorial wall in Tangshan, in north China's Hebei province. ©CHINA OUT REUTERS/China Daily

- 1970: Mount Huascaran, Peru: earthquake and resulting avalanche killed 66,800. Magnitude 7.5.

- 1948: USSR: More than 100,000 people killed in and around Ashgabat in modern-day Turkmenistan. Magnitude 7.3.

- 1939: Erzincan, Turkey: 35-40,000 killed. Magnitude 8.0.

- 1935: Quetta, India (now Pakistan): more than 50,000 killed. Magnitude 7.6.

- 1932: Gansu province, China: around 70,000 died. Magnitude 8.0.

- 1927: Nanshan province, China: up to 200,000 dead. Magnitude 8.0.

- 1923: Yokohama, Japan: more than 142,000 people died in the Great Kanto earthquake and resulting fire, which destroyed Tokyo. Magnitude 8.2.

- 1920: Gansu, northwestern China: more than 100,000 killed. Magnitude 8.5.

Source: AFP


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