Most powerful and deadly quakes of the past 100 years

A look at the deadliest earthquakes that occurred in the past century across the world.

Earthquake image
The deadliest earthquake recorded over the past century was in 1960 in Chile, where over 5,000 people died [File: Al Jazeera]

The 8.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Thursday is the most powerful to hit the country since 1985 when a quake measured at 8.1 killed around 10,000 people.

These are the world’s most powerful earthquakes in the past 100 years and some of the most deadly. The magnitudes are provided by the US government’s United States Geological Survey (USGS).


– Chile, 1960: 9.5

The most powerful ever recorded, the quake hit Chile’s coast in May, lasting about 10 minutes. Around 5,700 people were killed in Chile; the resulting tsunami left 130 dead in Japan and 61 in Hawaii.

– Alaska, 1964: 9.2

The largest earthquake recorded in the United States, it struck the Prince William Sound area in March and unleashed a large tsunami but caused only around 123 deaths.

– Japan, 2011: 9.1

This quake triggered a devastating tsunami off northeastern Japan, leaving some 18,500 people dead and crippling the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the world’s worst atomic disaster in 25 years.

People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017 [Pedro Pardo/AFP]
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during an earthquake on September 7, 2017 [Pedro Pardo/AFP]

– Indonesia, 2004: 9.1

The earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra in December and unleashes a tsunami that kills 220,000 in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

– Russia, 1952: 9.0

More than 2,300 people were killed when this earthquake hit Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, causing a tsunami felt as far as Chile and Peru.

– Chile, 2010: 8.8

The earthquake was intense but killed only around 450 people, triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific.


– China, 1976: 242,000 killed

An earthquake measured at 7.4 struck near the industrial city of Tangshan in northeastern Hebei province. The official death toll is given as 242,000 but is believed to be significantly higher.

– China, 1920: up to 235,000 reported killed

This earthquake, measured at 8.3, hit the Haiyuan county of the northern province of Ningxia and caused aftershocks for several years.

– Haiti, 2010: more than 200,000 killed

A 7.0-earthquake hits in January, destroying thousands of buildings and leaving at least 200,000 people dead.


Source: AFP