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Updated by Nivedita Ramakrishnan on May 29, 2015
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10 Most Devastating Earthquakes

Since time immemorial, earthquakes have caused colossal devastation on earth and have brought much havoc and trouble to mankind. Here are the top ten earthquakes that have been the most powerful ones seen in history so far.

Great East Japan Earthquake

Tohoku, Japan.
March 11, 2011.
Magnitude 9.0

The ocean pouring out into the teeming cities at midday, the debris from Japan reaching another continent, and owing to the damage to a nuclear plant because of the earthquake so many places now being barred because of too much radioactive-content exposure, so much irreparable loss both physical and mental: The Great East Earthquake is still a most grim reminder to both Japan and the world at large.

Haiti Earthquake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
January 12, 2010.
Magnitude 7.0

How many times do we see the entire world's people come together as one to help out just one another country? Yes, not often. But if such a case does occur, then it means that something very extraordinarily destructive has happened to the country that needed help. And Haiti was exactly that. The history of earthquakes was pretty much redefined by what occurred at Haiti, what with the loss and the huge phenomenon it created among humans to help one another.

Sichuan Earthquake

Sichuan, China.
May 12, 2008.
Magnitude 8.0 and 7.9

I recall seeing news of the Sichuan quake everywhere when I was a 14 year old. China has been hit repeatedly by quakes, yes, but a fresh blow like this one threw off the calm that prevailed. This quake caused repeated aftershocks to occur after many months--and those aftershocks still kept causing havoc!

Indian Ocean Earthquake

Sumatra, Indonesia.
December 26, 2004.
Magnitude 9.1 - 9.3

I was ten when this quake occurred and that was the first time I had come across the concept of an earthquake. When I learnt of the massive destruction caused, I was petrified, too shocked. And I was a mere child who was watching all this from the comforts of her home. Imagine: How would it have been for those suffered in the earthquake? Yes, a most cruel event was the Sumatra quake--nature simply vented it all out!

The Great Hanshin Earthquake Disaster

Hyogo, Japan.
January 17, 1995.
Magnitude 6.8

The Hanshin quake literally destroyed everything and caused much widespread havoc. Ask any Japanese who has lived it out and they will recount sad tales to you. Having gutted not just a few but many areas, it might as well have torn down the places completely! It was good that the Japanese had the spirit to get back on their feet quickly though.

Great Chilean Earthquake

Valdivia, Chile.
May 22, 1960.
Magnitude 9.5

One of the highest recorded magnitude levels. Is always mentioned nearly first in many quake-related readings. Gives off a shudder of horror, doesn't it?
Well, the reality of it must have been ten times as much!!

Great Kanto Earthquake

Kanto Region, Japan.
September 1, 1923.
Magnitude 7.9

Most of what Tokyo today is might have completely been rebuilt or restored. Why so? Well, it just so happened that this quake occurred at noon-time when all the households were cooking lunch--meaning using raw fire to cook. As a result, huge fires broke out everywhere in the city and even gave rise to firestorms! There is so much about this displayed at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Now, in Japan, the day of this earthquake is regarded annually as the "Disaster Prevention Day".

Haiyuan Earthquake

Haiyuan County, Ningxia Province, China.
December 16, 1920.
Magnitude 7.8

Ever heard of an earthquake that had aftershocks continuing on for three straight years? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But yes! That did happen with this quake! Cities broken down in the middle, rivers' courses being altered, and "Seiches from this earthquake were observed in 2 lakes and 3 fjords in western Norway"!!

Great Lisbon Earthquake

Lisbon, Portugal.
November 1, 1755.
Magnitude 8.5 - 9.0

"In combination with subsequent fires and a tsunami, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and adjoining areas." and "In the areas unaffected by the tsunami, fire quickly broke out, and flames raged for five days."
All this happened in 1755--when there was no technology of any sort for communication as such!

Sicily Earthquake

Sicily, Italy.
January 11, 1693.
Magnitude 7.4

It is said that nearly 2/3 of the population of Catania was wiped out because of this quake! Entire towns and cities had to be rebuilt that were once teeming with life. Also, aftershocks were felt for 3 more years.