10 Deadliest Earthquakes & Tsunamis in Recent Times

Tsunamis are one of the most deadly, most devastating natural disasters, they are sometimes referred to as tidal waves but in actual sense, Tsunamis are not really tidal waves because they actually have nothing to do with tides.

“Tsunamis are series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami”

Tsunamis are not just only powerful but are also very fast, they can move as fast as a jet airliner with the capability of destroying any structure whether man made or natural on its path, from trees to buildings with the capability of even wiping out an entire village, the most deadly Tsunamis usually form after earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or underwater explosions. This article takes a look at 10 of the most devastating Earthquakes and Tsunamis that occured in the recent times.

10. Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami 1964

The 1964 Alaskan earthquake also referred as the Great Alaskan Earthquake, the Portage Earthquake or Good Friday Earthquake occured on March 27, 1964, that day was Good Friday, a Christian day of worship that is used to remember the day Christ was crucified on the cross. Reports from various sources indicate that about 131 people died as a result of the earthquake: nine as a result of earthquake itself, 106 as a result of tsunamis in Alaska and 16 from tsunamis in Oregon andCalifornia. Property damage was estimated at over $310 million ($2.22 billion in current U.S. dollars).

9. Samoa Earthquake and Tsunami 2009

On 29th September 2009, Samoan Islands experienced an 8.1 magnitude earthquake, according to the Guardian of 2nd October 2009, this earthquake resulted to 189 deaths; 149 in Samoa, 31 American Samoa, 9 Tonga making it what could be described as the most devastating earthquake of 2009, the earthquake and Tsuami would have been more devastating if not for the fact that Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued enough warning that gave people time to evacuate to higher ground.

8. Hokkaido Earthquake and Tsunami 1993

Although the Japanese authorities responded quickly with a tsunami warning, but the small island of Okushiri was beyond help on that fateful day, July 12th, 1993, the earthquake with the corresponding Tsunami occurred 80 miles off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan with a magnitude of 7.8 earthquake and a total of 230 fatalities leaving so many people injured and homeless.

7. Tumaco Earthquake and Tsunami 1979

On December 12th, 1979, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 hit Colombia and Ecuador’s Pacific coast responsible for most of the estimated 600 deaths. 93 of the original population of 4,000 were reported either dead or missing. The tsunami also destroyed all the houses in San Juan de la Costa, leaving 199 either dead or missing. The total death toll was estimated to be between 500 and 600 with another 4,000 people injured.

6. Java Earthquake and Tsunami 2006

This 7.7 magnitude earthquake occured on the July 17th, 2006, According to the U.S. Geological Survey “The earthquake occurred as a result of thrust-faulting on the boundary between the Australia plate and the Sunda Plate. On this part of their mutual boundary, the Australia plate moves north-northeast with respect to the Sunda plate at about 59 mm/year. The Australia plate thrusts beneath the Sunda plate at the Java Trench, south of Java, and is subducted to progressively greater depths beneath Java and north of Java. The earthquake occurred on the shallow part of the plate boundary, about 50 km north of the Java trench.” By the end of the day, approximately 668 people died, 65 were declared missing and 9,299 were being treated because of the disaster.

5. Moro Gulf Earthquake and Tsunami 1976

Island of Mindanao in the Philippines was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 on August 16, 1979 killing 5000-8000 people with a further 2,200 reported missing, 9,500 people were injured and over 90,000 inhabitants were left homeless. This Earthquake and Tsunami would have resulted to more injuries and deaths had it not been that it occurred in the night and so many people were not busy outside.

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4. Papua New Guinea Earthquake and Tsunami 1998

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the north coast of Papua New Guinea in the early evening of Friday, 17 July 1998. was not expected to cause such a devastating tsunami but the undersea landslide that followed as a result generated waves up 49 feet tall and averaging 34 feet in height leading to death of about 2,200 people and thousands of people injured, about 9,500 were left homeless with additional  500 missing

If there’s one important lesson that is learned from this, it is the recognition of the fact that that such small events can be very dangerous, even though the earthquake may be too small to be felt on land, or detected by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Tsunami that can occur as a result could be very devastating. This serves as a lesson for the future, hopefully more lives could be saved.

3. Valdivia Earthquake and Tsunami 1960

Sunday, 22 May 1960 will be remembered as the day the world experienced the strongest and most powerful earthquake ever recorded in history. On that fateful afternoon, the Great Chilean Earthquake began off the southern coast of central Chile, with a volcanic eruption, its resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Up to 6,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives due to the quake and the resulting tsunami. Different sources have estimated the monetary cost to be somewhere around US$400 million to 800 million (or 2.9 to 5.8 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusted for inflation)

2. Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011

On March 11th, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which triggered a deadly 23-foot tsunami in the northern part of the country, the waves that resulted from it caused a massive destruction of cities and rural areas alike, sweeping away homes, cars, buildings, boats. In total, about 125,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. The full consequences of this nuclear disaster are still not yet clear, but radiation has been detected 200 miles from the plant. In total, it left 15,839 dead, 5,950 injured, and 3,642 missing. If not for the warnings that were issued for Russia, Taiwan, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the west coasts the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and South America, maybe more people would have been killed.

1. Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami 2004

The 2004 Sumantra, Indonesia Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami was one of the most devastating and most destructive natural disasters in human history, it was estimated to occur at a depth of 30 km. The earthquake that caused it is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The Indian Ocean tsunami traveled as much as 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) to Africa, causing waves as high as 50 feet (15 meters) in some places killing thousands of people and destroying properties. This Tsunami resulted to the death of over 150,000 people and millions more were homeless in 11 countries, an estimated US$10b of damages is attributed to the disaster which is why it is referred to as the deadliest Tsunami in human history.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Wkipedia Commons

Amara Onuh
Amara Onuh
Amara is a personal finance and entertainment writer and journalist by trade with several years of experience covering businesses, CEOs, and celebrity profiles. She has worked as a full-time writer since 2015, and while she finds almost all the topics she writes about interesting, her favourite subjects are personal finance, business, entertainment, celebrities, and travel. Other than writing, she either spends most of her time reading Christian books or keeping up with the latest international news


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