10 Most Destructive Earthquakes in History

Earthquakes are well known as one of nature's deadliest forces and are able to cause a tremendous amount of damage in a very short period of time.

From the Nepal Earthquake that caused the overs of well over 5,000 people to Port-au-Prince, we're going to share the 10 most destructive earthquakes in history.

The 10 most destructive earthquakes in history are:

  1. Nepal 
  2. Nankaido, Japan
  3. Izmir, Turkey
  4. Rudbar, Iran
  5. Sicily, Italy
  6. Yungay, Peru
  7. Lisbon, Portugal 
  8. Tabriz, Iran
  9. Shemakha, Azerbaijan
  10. Kashmir, Pakistan


10) Kashmir, Pakistan

Kashmir, Pakistan
October 8, 2005

In October 2005, Pakistan was visited by an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 7.6!

The disaster counted a death toll of 85,000 and more than 70,000 were left injured. Considered to be a smaller size than the one that hit San Francisco in 1906.

It affected regions with 14,000 deaths in Jammu and the tremors were also felt in Tajikistan and some close to western China.

The total cost of staggering was 5.4 billion dollars in aids from all around the world.

9) Shemakha, Azerbaijan

Shemakha, Azerbaijan
November 1667

The earthquake that hit Azerbaijan in November 1667 was a 6.9 magnitude with its epicenter close to the city of Samaxi, Azerbaijan.

It caused the death of more than 80,000 people and had a focal depth of 12 kilometers with an estimated damager of well over 25 million dollars.

8) Tabriz, Iran

Tabriz, Iran
April 26, 1721

This earthquake took place close to the city of Tabriz, Iran back in 1721. It destroyed prominent mosques and schools which resulted in death casualties of 2500,000!

It was interpreted as an omen of misfortune or in some places a demonstration of divine wrath but contributed to the success of the Ottoman take-over of Tabriz back in 1722 and on its difficulties economically and financially. It's worth mentioning that it caused the destruction of the city's significant historical monuments.

7) Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
November 1, 1755

Well-known as the “Great Lisbon Earthquake”, this event took place back in 1755 in the Kingdom of Portugal.

It's estimated by today's seismologists that the earthquake was in the range of 8.5 to 9.0 on the moment magnitude scale and had a deadly combination of subsequent fires and a tsunami!

It completely destroyed Lisbon and everything it surrounded and it had an estimated death toll of up to 100,000 people.

Because of its devastating effects over large seas, this event resulted in the science of modern seismology and earthquake engineering.

6) Yungay, Peru

Yungay, Peru
May 31, 1970

The “Great Peruvian Earthquake” was an undersea earthquake that affected a lot of regions close to Ancash and La Libertad.

It occurred on May 31, back in 1970 and was recorded as one of the deadliest catastrophic natural disasters that ever hit Peru.

The disaster affected more than 3 million people! It had a magnitude of 7.9 to 8.0 on the Richter scale and had an intensity of VIII on the Mercalli Scale – it's said that it lasted more than 45 seconds.

This earthquake caused the rock, ice, and snow avalanche north of Mount Huascaran to completely bury the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca, which lead to the death of somewhere 20,000 people just in Yungay.

The damage toll was 74,148 deaths, 25,600 still missing and 143,000 damages – and more than a million people left homeless.

The estimated economic damage was more than half a billion dollars with the whole communication system and basic facility left destroyed.

5) Sicily, Italy

Sicily, Italy
January 11, 1963

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 and maximum intensity of XI or ‘extreme' struck parts of Sicily, Calabria, and Matta in south Italy.

It's considered the most powerful earthquake in Italian history, it destroyed approximately 70 towns and caused the death of close to 60,000 people.

What's significant is that it was also followed by a tsunami that hit the Ionian Sea and the Straits of Messina – left wiped out two-thirds of the entire population of Catania!

4) Rudbar, Iran

Rudbar, Iran
June 21, 1990

The disastrous earthquake that happened in 1990 in Iran caused widespread damage within the range of 100 kilometers from the epicenter – close to the city of Rashi.

It was somewhat 200 northwest of Tehran. It left completely destroyed 700 villages across the cities of Rudbar, Manjil and some parts of Lushan. The total cost of damages was approximately 200 million dollars, including 40,000 fatalities and 60,000 injuries leaving more than half a million people homeless.

3) Izmir, Turkey

Izmit, Turkey
August 17, 1990

The earthquake that hit Turkey in 1990 was a 7.9 magnitude earthquake and struck the northern part of Turkey and lasted for only 3.7 seconds.

The city of Izmir was tremendously badly damaged with a death toll of 17,127 and 43,959 damaged. It's still blurry because some other sources claim that the fatalities were closer to 45,000.

Another report from September of 1999 showed that the earthquake actually destroyed 120,000 poorly-engineered houses, and damaged badly 50,000 houses.

It caused more than 2,000 buildings to collapse while 4,000 others were severely damaged which left 300,000 people homeless.

2) Nankaido, Japan

Nankaido, Japan
September 20, 1498

The earthquake that hit Japan in 1498 had an 8.6 magnitude and happened off the coast of Nankai, Japan which then triggered a very large tsunami. This whole catastrophe cost the lives of more than 31,000 people!

It also caused severe shaking that reached the city of the Boso Peninsula and additionally caused a tsunami in Suruga Bay too – resulting in the destroying of the building that housed the statue of The Great Buddha at Kotoku-in.

1) Nepal

Nepal Earthquake
April 25, 2015

An earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015 had a magnitude of 7.8 and hit the area of somewhere between the capital (Kathmandu) and the city of Pokhara. It's also said that it was equally as damaging as 20 thermonuclear weapons.

The catastrophe claimed the lives of at least 5,000 people while leaving more than 10,000 injured.

The devastating earthquake also destroyed some of the major monuments like the Dharahara tower, temples and world heritage sites close to the capital city of Kathmandu.

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