Deadliest earthquakes in history

The earthquake that killed around 500 people in Iraq and Iran was the deadliest of 2017, but there have also been devastating natural disasters throughout history 

Deadliest earthquakes in history

During the first week of November, one of the deadliest earthquakes of the year shook Iran and Iraq. According to official data, there are more than 500 deaths due to the catastrophe. However, this was not the most deadly seism in human history. 

Chimbote, Peru

On May 31st, 1970, an earthquake destroyed the cities of Chimbote, Ranrahirca, Yungay, and Huaraz on the coast of Peru. The seism of 7.9 on the Richter scale, and a subsequent landslide of the Huascaran Mountain, killed around 70.000 individuals.

Messina, Italy

On December 28th, 1908, the south of Italy was shook by a powerful earthquake. The city of Messina, north of the island of Sicily, was the most affected. 72.000 people passed away, which was about 40% of the city population, due to the natural disaster of 7.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake also caused a tsunami.

Cachemira, Pakistan

In 2005, 86.000 individuals died in Cachemira, Pakistan due to an earthquake that scored a 7.6 on the Richter scale. The seism destroyed small villages in the region. It is considered to be the most devastating earthquake to ever affect the country.

Sichuan, China

The 7th deadliest earthquake in history hit China on May 12th, 2008. A powerful seism affected the region of Sichuan in the heart of the Asian nation. The earthquake killed around 87.500 people in the area. 

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

On October 5th, 1948, the city of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan was destroyed due to a 7,3 earthquake. At that moment in time, the death of 110.000 people was not reported on because of the censorship of the Turkmen Government. Historians suspect that 10% of the Turkmen population died in the catastrophe.

Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan

One of the most powerful earthquakes in history occurred in Japan on September 1st, 1923. The seism affected the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama killing 142.800 people. After the destruction that the earthquake left behind, a tsunami affected the coast of the Japanese island.

Haiyuan, China

The district of Haiyuan suffered an earthquake that killed nearly 200.000 people on December 16th, 1920. The seism was a 7.8 on the Richter scale; it destroyed the city and produced a series of aftershocks during the following three years. 

Sumatra, Indonesia

On December 26th, 2004 one of the most powerful earthquake in history shook the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. The island contains the most populated city of the country, Medan, with near 2 million inhabitants. The natural disaster of 9.1 on the Richter scale left 227.000 deaths and 2 million refugees. This was the third most powerful earthquake ever reported since 1900.

Tangshan, China

The deadliest earthquake to ever hit China occurred on July 27th, 1976 in the city of Tangshan, the northeast of the country. The seism left 242.000 people death, according to official data. However, unofficial reports calculate around 655.000 deaths.


An earthquake that nearly destroyed the island registered a 7.0 on the Richter scale. 326.000 people died due to the seism and around 1 million were displaced. After the disaster, a cholera pandemic affected Haitians; the earthquake of January 12th, 2010 is considered the most deathly seism in history.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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