Top 10 Worst Most Dangerous Earthquakes of all Time

Nature works in mysterious ways. Alongwith providing us the best environment to live in, it also provides some calamities maybe to maintain a balance between the good and the evil! If it provides us oxygen to breathe, it also shows its force through thunderstorms. If it shows how good it is, at the same time, it shows how angry can it get! One such way of nature to show its anger is earthquake. Treated as one of the worst forms of the natural disasters, it surely causes a huge loss.

Earthquakes are usually caused by shifting of tectonic plates present under the surface of the Earth. When these tectonic plates strike with each other, or just get scratched, they cause the Earth’s surface to vibrate, thus giving rise to earthquake. The point of origin of an earthquake is known as its epicenter and the instrument used to measure the frequency of an earthquake is called a seismometer. The basic principle behind the working of a seismometer is the recording of the frequency of vibrations being caused at a particular place. It prints a zig-zag trace on a piece of paper, and through the mathematical calculations, the magnitude in terms of Richter Scale is calculated.


Earth experiences many earthquakes each year during the course of time. Most of them are mild enough and cannot be felt. They usually have a magnitude of less than 4, but some earthquakes are large enough to cause a huge amount of devastation all around. They are usually having a magnitude greater than 8. The earthquake having the highest magnitude ever recorded was equivalent to 9.5. Alongwith causing huge vibrations on the Earth’s surface which leads to the falling up of buildings and causing a huge loss, earthquakes are also known to be the main reason of tsunamis and other such natural disasters. Earthquakes happening under the sea or ocean surface are usually known to be the most common reason leading to tsunamis. The worst earthquakes this world has ever seen include the following.

10. Assam Tibet Earthquake

Magnitude- 8.6, Date- August 15, 1950


Though known by the name, Assam Earthquake, the epicenter of this earthquake is known to be in Tibet. With a death toll of approximately 800 people on records, this quake affected not only Assam or Tibet region, but also had a huge affect on the outskirts of China. The records say a death of 800 people but in actual, much more population than this number died that day, and a huge number suffered from severe injuries, thus making it one of the worst 10 earthquakes.

09. Northern Sumatra, Indonesia

Magnitude- 8.6, Date- March 28, 2005


One of the most devastating thing about an earthquake is that if happening near water bodies, it force the water to form tides and waves, and thus leading to another havoc called Tsunami. Similar thing happened at Sumatra Islands, where an earthquake struck in the touristy month of March. Being an island region, the earthquake gave rise to a Tsunami wave and traversed to regions as far as Sri Lanka. The average death toll due to this earthquake is estimated to be around 1500 with more than 400 people getting injured. The injuries and deaths include those caused due to the Tsunami.

08. Rat Islands, Alaska

Magnitude- 8.7, Date- April 02, 1965


This earthquake solely happened inside water and all the losses happened in this quake were due to the Tsunami waves caused by it. Happened in one of the most beautiful regions on Earth, this quake gave rise to a huge tsunami causing a loss of thousands of dollars. The good news in this quake was that no human loss or injuries were reported in these islands due to lack of population in this area.

07. Off the Coast of Ecuador

Magnitude- 8.8, Date- January 31, 1906


A long time has passed since this disaster happened. This earthquake was also inside the water body and gave rise to the infamous Tsunami waves. These waves struck the regions of Columbia, US and even the regions of Japan giving a total death toll of around 1500. After this Tsunami, various such coastal areas started taking preventive steps to prevent the losses caused by Tsunamis.

06. Bio Bio, Chile

Magnitude- 8.8, Date- February 27, 2010


One of the worst days in the history of the highly earthquake prone zone of Chile, this quake happened to take the lives of more than 500 people. The tsunami accompanied by this quake added to the affects by displacing hundreds of thousands of people of which, about 50 are still missing. The number of injured people reached a level of 12,000, thus making one of the worst earthquakes of the human history. A huge loss of capital was also recorded after the course of these vibrations and waves.

05. Kamchatka, Russia

Magnitude- 9.0, Date- November 4, 1952


Imagine a wave of 9 m height approaching you with a really high speed! What would you do? Wouldn’t you feel helpless! A similar situation happened in the Kamchatka region of Russia in 1952 where such a huge Tsunami caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake made people feel helpless. They left their belongings and tried some safe space to live in. Luckily, no human life was lost that day due to this natural disaster, though a huge loss of capital was recorded.

04. Sendai, Japan

Magnitude- 9.0, Date- March 11, 2011

Japan earthquake

Who can even forget the earthquakes that caused Tsunami, and caused the failure of the thermal plants in Japan, thus making the environment of that region, prone to the harmful radiations of Uranium and Thorium? Happened just a few years back., this earthquake is said to be one of the worst quakes of the history. Japan doesn’t has much land but is rich in knowledge and technology and this earthquake made Japan defy of many thousand brainy minds. Despite of suffering such a huge loss, the government and people came together to diminish the affects of this earthquake cum tsunami, and within no time bagged the title of a superpower again!

03. Sumatra, Indonesia

Magnitude- 9.1, Date- December 26, 2004


Having its name twice in the list, it is clear that Sumatra comes in the region that is most prone to earthquakes. Just 3 months prior the earthquake of 8.6 magnitude, this quake caused much more loss of life and property than the later one! The earthquake gave rise to a huge devastating Tsunami killing about 300 thousand people all around the countries of South Africa and South Asia where the affect of this Tsunami outreached. It is known that after a few days of the earthquake, a volcanic eruption took place in the Andaman and this earthquake is blamed for it to happen.

02. 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake

Magnitude- 9.2, Date- March 28, 1964


The name says it all! It has been one of the greatest earthquake of history due to its high magnitude. The aftermath of this earthquake included 150 people losing their lives, and a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars worth. The trembles of the quake were felt only in some parts of New America, but the accompanying Tsunami travelled to places causing such a huge amount of loss.

01. Valdivia, Chile

Magnitude- 9.5, Date- May 22, 1960


The land of Chile can be renamed as The Land of Earthquakes as maximum amount of Earthquakes take place in this area. It is the second time the name of this country is coming in this list. This earthquake is known to kill 1700 people and the following tsunami displacing more than 2 million people. More than 3000 people faces serious injury and the net loss was calculated to be equivalent to $600 million, which surely is not a small amount. The country has been trying to take up many steps to prevent any sort of losses caused by earthquakes and to some extent, these efforts are paying off!

In the end, I would like to say that earthquakes cannot be prevented. All we can do is prevent the losses and take steps to help people accustomed by the steps they must take when they experience a tremble under the Earth! These efforts categorised under Disaster management surely does help to minimise the risks and negative effects that are left by the earthquake.

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Aneesh Uppal

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