The worst earthquakes in the world and lessons learned from them

2023-02-27 2023-02-27T18:42:53Z
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طقس العرب
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Earthquakes are one of the most natural disasters that affect humanity, and the world has witnessed many powerful earthquakes that have caused great human and material losses over the years. It is important to learn the lessons learned from these catastrophic events to minimize their impact in the future.

The worst earthquakes that occurred in history before the earthquake in Turkey and Syria that occurred in 2023:

  • Crete earthquake in 356

This earthquake struck the island of Crete in the Mediterranean (currently belonging to Greece) and is estimated to have a magnitude of about 8.0. It triggered a massive tsunami that devastated the island, destroying much of its infrastructure and killing thousands of people.

  • Antioch earthquake in 526

This earthquake, which struck the city of Antioch in modern Turkey, is considered one of the most violent in ancient history. The earthquake is estimated to have a magnitude of around 7.0 and is believed to have caused the death of more than 250,000 people.

  • Damghan earthquake in 856

This earthquake struck the city of Damghan in modern Iran. It is estimated that the earthquake had a magnitude of about 8.0 and is believed to have caused the death of more than 200 thousand people and severe damage to the city, including the collapse of many buildings, followed by a fire that led to a high death toll.

  • Irian Jaya earthquake in 793

This earthquake struck the island of Irian Jaya, which is now part of Indonesia, and is estimated to have a magnitude of about 8.0. It triggered a massive tsunami that devastated the coastline and is believed to have killed thousands of people.

  • Jordan Valley earthquake in 1033

This earthquake devastated large areas of the Levant. It is estimated that its magnitude ranged between 6.7 and 7.1 degrees, and claimed the lives of at least 70,000 people. It also destroyed the cities of Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, Tiberias, Ashkelon, and Acre.

  • Aleppo earthquake in 1138

This earthquake struck the city of Aleppo in modern Syria, with an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. It caused widespread damage and is believed to have killed more than 230,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

  • Honshu earthquake in 1185

This earthquake, which struck the Honshu region of Japan, is considered one of the deadliest earthquakes in Japanese history. It is estimated that the earthquake had a magnitude of around 8.0 and is believed to have caused the death of more than 30,000 people. The earthquake caused widespread damage in the area, including the collapse of many buildings, and was followed by a tsunami, which exacerbated the death toll.

  • Shanxi earthquake in 1556

This earthquake, which occurred in the Chinese province of Shanxi on January 23, 1556, is considered one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. It is estimated that the earthquake had a magnitude of around 8.0 and is believed to have caused the death of more than 830,000 people. The quake was so strong that it cracked the ground, creating new lakes and caused widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure, landslides, rockfalls and fire, leading to a high death toll.

  • Cairo earthquake in 1754

This earthquake struck the Egyptian capital, Cairo, in 1754. It is believed to have a magnitude of 6.6 and has killed 40,000 people, and a large number of buildings in the city collapsed.

  • Lisbon earthquake in 1755

The earthquake struck the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, which occurred on November 1, 1755. It is one of the deadliest and destructive earthquakes in history, killing between 60 and 100 thousand people (although the exact number is uncertain). It was followed by a tsunami and fires, which led to the almost complete destruction of the city of Lisbon, and the destruction reached Casablanca.

  • Shillong earthquake in 1897

The magnitude of this earthquake in India was estimated at 8.7 and caused widespread damage and loss of life. The exact number of victims is unknown. The earthquake caused severe damage in the city of Shillong and its surrounding areas, destroying buildings and infrastructure, and displacing many people.

  • Italy earthquake in 1908

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Strait of Messina, Italy, severely damaged the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria, killing between 70,000 and 80,000 people.

  • The Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923

This earthquake, which struck the Japanese capital Tokyo, Japan with a magnitude of 7.9, caused widespread damage and loss of life. It is estimated that the earthquake caused more than 140,000 deaths, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in Japan's history.

  • Chile earthquake in 1960

The most powerful earthquake recorded in the world devastated Chile, with a magnitude of 9.5 on the Richter scale and the effects of a tsunami with a height of ten meters, which destroyed entire villages. There is a wide variation in reports regarding the number of deaths.

  • Peru earthquake in 1970

A powerful earthquake in the Peruvian Andes led to a landslide that completely destroyed the city of Yungay and killed 66,000 people.

  • Managua earthquake in 1972

Nearly 10,000 people were killed in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, by an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale. Reports indicated that the huge devastation caused by the earthquake was caused by poorly constructed tall buildings that collapsed easily.

  • Tangshan earthquake in 1976

The Tangshan earthquake, which occurred on July 28, 1976, is considered one of the deadliest earthquakes of the 20th century. The earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was Tangshan City, Hebei Province, China. The earthquake caused widespread damage and is estimated to have killed more than 240,000 people. Many buildings in Tangshan City were completely destroyed, leaving the city in ruins. The earthquake also caused widespread fires that increased the death toll.

  • Mexico City earthquake of 1985

The Mexican capital, Mexico City, was hit by a strong earthquake that destroyed buildings and killed 10,000 people.

  • The Northridge earthquake of 1994

This earthquake, which struck Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1994, had a magnitude of 6.7 and caused widespread damage in the area. It is estimated that the earthquake killed more than 60 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

  • Gilan earthquake in 1990

This earthquake, which struck the northern Iranian province of Gilan, killed about 40,000 people.

  • Gujrat earthquake in 2001

An earthquake measuring 7.9 devastated most of Gujarat state in northwestern India, killing nearly 20,000 people and displacing more than a million others. Bhuj and Ahmedabad were among the worst affected cities.

  • Sumatra earthquake in 2004

The Sumatra earthquake on December 26 had a magnitude of 9.1. It hit the western coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean, affecting coastal areas in several countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. It is estimated that the earthquake and tsunami killed more than 230,000 people. The disaster had a profound impact on the region and resulted in widespread destruction and damage

  • Kashmir earthquake in 2005

The Kashmir earthquake, which occurred on October 8, 2005, with a magnitude of 7.6, struck the Kashmir region of Pakistan. The earthquake caused widespread damage and destruction, particularly in the northern part of the country, killing more than 80,000 people. The earthquake also caused severe damage to infrastructure including roads, bridges and buildings, making it difficult for rescue and relief efforts to reach those in need.

  • Sichuan earthquake in 2008

This earthquake, which occurred on May 12, 2008 with a magnitude of 7.9 and struck Sichuan Province in China, caused widespread damage and destruction, especially in Chengdu and other nearby areas. The death toll from this earthquake was estimated at about 90,000 people. With more than 60,000 others injured and many more homeless. The earthquake also triggered huge landslides, adding to the damage. The scale of the disaster was so great that it required massive rescue and relief efforts from the Chinese government, as well as from other countries and international organizations.

  • Haiti earthquake in 2010

This earthquake, which struck Haiti on January 12 of 2010, had a magnitude of 7.0 and caused widespread damage in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and loss of life in the country. It is estimated that the earthquake caused more than 200,000 deaths and displaced more than 1.5 million people. It also caused severe damage to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings, making it difficult for rescue and relief efforts to reach the victims. It was one of the deadliest and most destructive earthquakes in modern history, and had a profound impact on the people of Haiti.

It should be noted that it is often difficult to accurately determine earthquake magnitudes and the number of casualties from historical earthquakes, as many were recorded before modern seismic monitoring and record-keeping systems were in place.

Earthquakes continue to pose a threat to societies around the world. It is important to remember those earthquakes that struck in the past and their impact on the people affected by them, so that we can better prepare for future earthquakes and reduce damage and loss of life.


From past earthquakes, several lessons can be learned to improve our preparedness for future earthquakes, including:

  1. Developing earthquake-resistant infrastructure: Buildings and vital activities such as schools, hospitals and government facilities must be designed in a way that helps reduce damage caused by earthquakes.
  2. Improving public awareness about earthquakes: The community must be made aware of the danger of earthquakes, taught how to act in the event of an earthquake, and trained in emergency plans.
  3. Focus on advanced technology: Work must be done to improve the technology available to warn of potential earthquakes and to provide emergency and rescue services in the event of an earthquake.
  4. International Cooperation: There must be cooperation between countries in exchanging experiences and information on dealing with earthquakes and coordinating international efforts to help countries that suffer from earthquakes.

In the end, integrated plans and strategies must be developed to deal with earthquakes, including improving public awareness, strengthening infrastructure, and relying on advanced technology and international cooperation, in order to reduce the negative impact of earthquakes in the future.

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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