Earthquakes and natural disasters have taken far too many lives. In the aftermath of an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia (and subsequent tsunami warnings to 28 countries), we a look at the worst earthquakes in the history:
1. Sumatra, Indonesia - 26 December, 2004 (magnitude 9.1) - Topping the list is the 9.1 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia that happened in 2004. According to Australian Geographic, over 227,900 people were killed or presumed dead, with around 1.7 million displaced in over 14 countries in South Asia and East Africa. The epicentre was 250km south-east of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, at a depth of 30km.
2. Valdivia, Chile - 22 May, 1960 (magnitude 9.5) - This is the most powerful earthquake recorded till date. The earthquake affected Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The epicentre was near Lumaco, 570km away from the capital city of Santiago. The earthquake killed 1,655 people, injured 3,000 and displaced two million. It caused US$550 million damage in Chile alone.
3. Prince William Sound, Alaska - 28 March, 1964 (magnitude 9.2) - The Great Alaskan earthquake and the tsunami resulting from it caused 143 deaths. It was the most powerful earthquake in the history of North America and was the second largest earthquake in history. The aftershocks of this quake lasted for weeks.
4. Sendai, Japan 11 March, 2011 (magnitude 9.0) - The Great East Japan earthquake, as it was called had a magnitude of 9.0. The earthquake triggered tsunami waves that tragically compromised the safety of the Fukushima nuclear reactors as well. More than 50 aftershocks went on for several hours after the initial disturbances, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0. The quake struck at a depth of 10km and 125km off the eastern coast of Japan.
5. Kamchatka, Russia 4 November, 1952 (magnitude 9.0) - The 1952 Kamchatka earthquake initially had a magnitude of 8.2 but grew in intensity till it touched 9.0 The damage to property was estimated to be approximately US$1,000,000 .There were earlier earthquakes in the same area in 1737 and 1923. Aftershocks were recorded in an area of approximately 247,000 km2, at depths of between 40km and 60km.