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World—Disasters

Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions

A.D. 79
Aug. 24, Italy: eruption of Mt. Vesuvius buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing
thousands.
856
Dec. 22, Damghan, Iran: earthquake killed 200,000.
893
March 23, Ardabil, Iran: earthquake killed about 150,000 people.
1138
Aug. 9, Aleppo, Syria: deadly earthquake claimed lives of 230,000 people.
1290
Sept., Chihli, China: earthquake killed about 100,000 people.
1556
Jan. 23, Shaanxi (Shensi) province, China: most deadly earthquake in history; 830,000 killed.
1667
Nov., Shemakha, Caucasia: earthquake killed about 80,000 people.
1693
Jan. 11, Sicily, Italy: earthquake killed about 60,000 people.
1707
Oct. 28, Japan: tsunami caused by an earthquake drowned 30,000.
1727
Nov. 18, Tabriz, Iran: about 77,000 victims killed in deadly earthquake.
1755
Nov. 1, Portugal: earthquake, fires, and Atlantic tsunami leveled Lisbon and was felt as far away
as southern France and North Africa; 70,000 killed.
1782
South Sea, China: tsunami killed 40,000.
1783
Feb. 4, Calabria, Italy: series of 6 earthquakes over two-month period caused massive
destruction, killing 50,000. One of first scientifically investigated earthquakes.
June 8, Iceland: eruption of Laki volcano lasted until Feb. 1784. Haze from eruption resulted in
loss of island's livestock and widespread crop failure; 9,350 deaths, mostly due to starvation.
1792
May 21, Kyushu Island, Japan: collapse of old lava dome during eruption of Unzen volcano
caused avalanche and tsunami that killed an estimated 14,300 people. (Most were killed by the
tsunami.) Japan's greatest volcano disaster.
1811
Dec. 16, Mississippi Valley, nr. New Madrid, Mo.: earthquake reversed the course of the
Mississippi River. Fatalities unknown due to sparse population in area. Aftershocks and tremors
continued into 1812. It has been estimated that three of the series of earthquakes had surface-
wave magnitudes of 8.6, 8.4, and 8.8 on the Richter scale. It is the largest series of earthquakes
known to have occurred in North America.
1815
April 5, 10–11, Netherlands Indies (Sumbawa, Indonesia): eruption of Tambora largest in
historic times. An estimated 92,000 people were killed, about 10,000 directly as a result of
explosions and ash fall and about 82,000 indirectly by starvation and disease.
1877
June 26, north-central Ecuador: eruption of Mt. Cotopaxi caused severe mudflows that wiped out
surrounding cities and valleys; 1,000 deaths.
1883
Aug. 26–28, Netherlands Indies (Krakatau, Indonesia): eruption of Krakatau; violent explosions
destroyed two-thirds of island and caused a tsunami on Java and Sumatra, killing more than
36,000. It was felt as far away as Cape Horn and possibly England.
1886
Aug. 31, Charleston, S.C.: magnitude 7.3 quake, killed 60 people and caused extensive damage.
1896
June 15, Sanriku, Japan: earthquake and tidal wave killed 27,000.
1902
May 7, St. Vincent, West Indies: Soufrière volcano erupted, devastating one-third of the island
and killing some 1,680 people.
May 8, Martinique, West Indies: Mt. Pelée erupted and wiped out city of St. Pierre; 40,000 dead.
1906
April 18, San Francisco: earthquake accompanied by fire razed more than 4 sq mi; estimates
range from 700 to 3,000 dead or missing.For more, see The Great 1906 San Francisco
Earthquake.
1908
Dec. 28, Messina, Sicily: city totally destroyed by earthquake. Estimated death toll, from quake
and tsunami, 70,000–100,000 in Sicily and southern Italy.
1915
Jan. 13, Avezzano, Italy: magnitude 7.5 earthquake left 29,980 dead.
1920
Dec. 16, Gansu province, China: magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed 200,000 in northwest China.
1923
Sept. 1, Japan: magnitude 7.9 earthquake destroyed one-third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama.
More than 140,000 killed.
1927
May 22, nr. Xining, China: magnitude 7.9 earthquake claimed approximately 200,000 victims.
1932
Dec. 25, Gansu, China: magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed approximately 70,000.
1933
March 10, Long Beach, Calif.: 117 left dead by earthquake.
1935
May 30, Pakistan: earthquake at Quetta killed 30,000–60,000.
1939
Jan. 24, Chile: earthquake razed 50,000 sq mi; about 30,000 killed.
Dec. 27, northern Turkey: severe quakes destroyed city of Erzingan; about 30,000 casualties.
1948
Oct. 5, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: magnitude 7.3 earthquake destroyed the city, killing 110,000.
1950
Aug. 15, India: earthquake affected 30,000 sq mi in Assam; 1500 killed.
1960
Feb. 29, Agadir, Morocco: 10,000–12,000 dead as earthquake set off tidal wave and fire,
destroying most of city.
May 22, Chile: strongest earthquake ever recorded (9.5 magnitude) struck near the coast, causing
a tsunami that traveled as far as Hawaii, Japan, and New Zealand, killing 4,000–5,000.
1964
March 28, Alaska (03:36:14 UT; March 27, 5:36 P.M. local time): strongest earthquake ever to
strike North America (9.2 magnitude) hit 80 mi east of Anchorage; followed by seismic wave
(tsunami) 50 ft high that traveled 8,445 mi at 450 mph; 117 killed..
1970
Jan. 5, Yunnan province, China: magnitude 7.5 quake killed more than 10,000.
May 31, Peru: magnitude 7.9 earthquake left more than 66,000 dead.
1972
Dec. 22, Managua, Nicaragua: earthquake devastated city, leaving up to 6,000 dead.
1976
Feb. 4, Guatemala: quake left over 23,000 dead.
July 28, Tangshan, China: worst earthquake to hit China in 20th century; devastated 20 sq mi of
city, leaving 255,000 (official) dead. Estimated toll as high as 655,000.
Aug. 17, Mindanao, Philippines: earthquake and tidal wave left up to 8,000 dead or missing.
1978
Sept. 16, Tabas, Iran: earthquake destroyed city in eastern Iran, leaving 15,000 dead.
1985
Sept. 19–20, Mexico: magnitude 8.0 earthquake devastated part of Mexico City and three coastal
states; estimated 25,000 killed (9,500 official).
Nov. 14–16, Colombia: eruption of Nevada del Ruiz, 85 mi northwest of Bogotá. Mudslides buried
most of the town of Armero and devastated Chinchiná; 21,800 killed.
1988
Dec. 7, Armenia: earthquake measuring 6.8 in magnitude killed nearly 25,000, injured 15,000, and
left at least 400,000 homeless.
1989
Oct. 17, San Francisco Bay area: earthquake measuring 7.1 in magnitude killed 67 and injured
over 3,000. Over 100,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
1990
June 21, northwest Iran: magnitude 7.7 earthquake destroyed cities and villages in Caspian Sea
area. At least 50,000 dead, over 60,000 injured, and 400,000 homeless.
July 16, northern Philippines: magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000.
1991
July 15, Luzon Island, Philippines: eruption of Mt. Pinatubo buried over 300 sq mi under volcanic
ash and resulted in more than 800 deaths.
1993
Aug. 8, Guam: earthquake measuring 8.1 in magnitude caused severe damage to many structures
but no fatalities.
Sept. 29, India: earthquake measuring 6.2 killed 9,748 and destroyed nearly all the buildings in
Khillari.
1994
Jan. 17, San Fernando Valley, Calif.: earthquake, 6.6 in magnitude, killed 61 and injured over
8,000. Damage estimated at $13–20 billion.
1995
Jan. 17, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, Japan: 5,500 killed and 36,800 injured. Magnitude: 6.9.
1997
May 12, northeast Iran: severe earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude left more than 1,500
people dead and at least 4,460 injured.
June–Sept., southern Montserrat: ongoing eruption of Soufrière Hills volcano since July 1995;
killed 20 people in major eruption on June 25, 1997, rendered southern two-thirds of Montserrat
uninhabitable, and forced some 8,000 of the island's 12,000 residents to abandon the island.
1998
May 30, northern Afghanistan: magnitude 6.9 earthquake and aftershocks killed at least 4,000. A
quake on Feb. 4 in same area killed about 2,300.
July 17, Papua New Guinea: three tsunamis, possibly spurred by an undersea landslide following
an earthquake, wiped out entire villages in the northwest province of Sepik. At least 2,100 killed.
1999
Jan. 25, Armenia, Colombia: 1,185 dead and more than 4,000 injured in magnitude 6.2
earthquake. Over 200,000 left homeless.
Aug. 17, northwest Turkey: magnitude 7.6 quake centered near Izmit killed over 17,000 and
injured about 44,000. Damage estimated at $8.5 billion. Another severe 7.2 temblor killed more
than 700 in Ducze and nearby towns in Nov.
Sept. 21, central Taiwan: severe 7.7 earthquake and aftershocks killed 2,295 and injured 8,729.
2001
Jan. 13, El Salvador: magnitude 7.7 earthquake set off some 185 landslides across El Salvador;
at least 850 died and nearly 100,000 houses were destroyed.
Jan. 26, Bhuj, India: magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked western Indian state of Gujarat, killing
more than 20,000 people and leaving 600,000 homeless.
2002
March 25, northeast Afghanistan: series of earthquakes—the largest measuring 6.1 in
magnitude—rattled an area 100 mi north of Kabul. Estimated 1,000 people killed. The city of
Nahrin, a densely populated district capital, was completely razed.
2003
May 21, Northern Algeria: magnitude 6.8 earthquake killed 2,266 people. The epicenter was 40
mi east of Algiers, the capital city.
Dec. 26, Bam, Iran: magnitude 6.6 earthquake devastated the ancient historic city of Bam in
southeast Iran, killing 26,200 people, injured 30,000, and left 75,000 homeless, as mud-brick
buildings collapsed.
2004
Dec. 26, Sumatra, Indonesia: magnitude 9.0 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, caused a
tremendously powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that hit 12 Asian countries, killing more than
225,000 and leaving millions homeless. It was the deadliest tsunami in history.
2005
Feb. 22, Zarand, Iran: magnitude 6.4 earthquake in central Iran shook more than 40 villages,
killing at least 612 people, injuring over 1,400, and destroying villages with many mud–brick
houses.
March 28, Sumatra, Indonesia: magnitude 8.7 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, killed
1,313. Many buildings in the islands of Nias and Simeulue were destroyed and some officials
feared another tsunami would occur. The same area was at the center of a huge tsunami in
December that killed over 225,000 people. Officials at the U.S. Geological Survey said that
yesterday's earthquake was an aftershock of December's 9.0 quake. The 9.0 magnitude
earthquake was twice the power of the 8.7 magnitude quake.
Oct. 8, Pakistan: magnitude 7.6 earthquake centered in the Pakistani-controlled part of the
Kashmir region killed more than 80,000 and injured 65,000. About half of the region’s capital city,
Muzaffarabad, has been destroyed, other towns and villages were flattened, and the extreme
mountainous terrain and bad weather made many areas unreachable for weeks after the quake. An
estimated 4 million were left homeless with winter on the way and insufficient resources to provide
shelter.
2006
May 26, Java, Indonesia: (May 27 at 5:54 AM local time in Java, Indonesia). 6.3 magnitude
earthquake killed 5,749 people and destroyed 127,000 homes. This area had also been under an
intense volcano watch due to the ongoing eruption of the volcano Merapi
July 17, Java, Indonesia: an earthquake triggered a tsunami, killing 730.