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The death and devastation caused by major earthquakes around the world can only worsen in the

years to come, as urban development and unprecedented population growth compound the lethal
effects of natural seismic hazards, experts say.

Big earthquakes strike regularly -- with about 18 measuring a magnitude 7.0 or greater every year
on average, and four or five above the very dangerous 7.6 level. The recent destructive temblors
in Turkey, Greece and Taiwan do not signify any increase in quake activity.

What has changed is that more and more people are living near faults. With the global population
expected to pass the 6 billion mark next month, there are fewer unpopulated places for quakes to
strike. With ever more people to accommodate, there is more multistory construction in
vulnerable fault zones as well.

As a result, destructive earthquakes such as those of the past several weeks "are the wave of the
future," said seismic expert Kerry Sieh of the California Institute of Technology.

"There are 40 cities of a million or more people within [62 miles] of a major plate boundary, and
all those are good candidates for a large event. Our exposure to the hazard is increasing."

Some experts suggest that in recent decades, the world has experienced a lull in the most severe
earthquakes -- those of magnitude 8.0 or greater. If so, even more destruction is to be expected
when the lull ends.

Taiwan is shaken by dozens of quakes every year, caused by the inexorable crush of two major
tectonic plates that squeeze the island from the east and west at the relatively rapid rate of
several centimeters a year, building up seismic energy like the tension in a coiled spring.

Tuesday's disaster in Taiwan was the most recent in a series of damaging urban earthquakes in
just over a decade.

Devastating tremors killed at least 16,000 people during a 7.4 earthquake in Turkey in August. At
least 122 people died during a 5.8 temblor in Athens, Greece, several weeks later. More than
6,400 people died in a 1995 quake in Kobe, Japan. The 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles
and the 1987 Loma Prieta temblor near San Francisco were among the most costly natural
disasters in U.S. history.

Millions of earthquakes occur around the world annually. Most are too small to be felt. An average
of 3,000 magnitude 5.0 quakes are recorded each year.

The destruction caused by an earthquake is unpredictable.

Tuesday's Taiwanese earthquake, at 7.6, was roughly twice as powerful as the 7.4 quake that
racked Turkey last month. But the death toll may be only one-tenth as high, in large part because
construction codes in Taiwan were more strictly enforced than in Turkey, several experts said.

Other factors can also make a huge difference. Several seismic hazard experts say that if the
epicenter of the Northridge earthquake had been a few miles to the south, more directly under
the downtown area, or if it had occurred during the day, the death toll might have reached the
thousands, rather than the dozens, with damages of $100 billion or more.
Officials in Taiwan said that temblor could have been even more deadly, had its timing and
location been slightly different.

"We roll the dice every time," said earthquake hazard analyst Charles Kircher.

But as urban boundaries expand to accommodate growing populations, those dice are being
weighted for disaster. "We get closer to known faults and put more people on top of the faults,"
Kircher said.

"There has been a fourfold increase in the world's population since the 1906 San Francisco quake,
and, if you look at the numbers, most of the million people who have died this century in
earthquakes have died in poorly built urban areas."

While better construction can save many lives, some experts worry that quake-specific
engineering solutions will foster the belief that it is safe to build in areas with a high potential for
earthquakes, thereby making the long-term hazard worse.

Biggest threat for urbanisation earthquakes/natural disasters

Here is another superb article from City Journal. This one is by Claire Berlinski who is a
contributing editor.

She says seismic risk poses the biggest risks for cities in the world. There are two reasons for this.
One, an earthquake causes more damage than anything else. Two, most big cities end up
naturally being in the seismic danger zone. People like to live near water and fertile ground. Over
the millennia, seismic activity creates coasts, valleys that channel water, temperate
microclimates. So people come and settle at these places and become big cities. As per Claire, 8
of top 10 cities are in seismic zone.

So cities should be working to address this huge risk. And there are some good examples from
recent Japanese, NZ and Chilean earthquakes:

Take the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, which released 600 million times the energy
of the Hiroshima bomb. The ensuing partial meltdown of the Fukushima reactor prompted
international hysteria about nuclear power, but few seemed to realize that a far deadlier threat
had been averted. As seismologist Roger Bilham has aptly put it, houses in seismically active
zones are the worlds unrecognized weapons of mass destructionand Japans WMDs didnt go
off. Its buildingsat least those that werent swept away by the accompanying tsunami, a force
of nature against which we are still largely helplessremained standing, and the people inside

That so few buildings collapsed in the earthquake was a human triumph of the first order. It
showed that countries can make great progress in seismic risk mitigation; in the Kobe earthquake
of 1995, 200,000 buildings collapsed. But cities around the world seem happy to ignore the
earthquake threatone that is only growing as the cities themselves get bigger and bigger

Likewise, the aftershock that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, this past February was deadly,
but the astonishing part of that story isnt that several of the citys buildings collapsed; its that
most of them did not. The peak ground accelerationa measurement of how much the ground
shakeswas immense, one of the highest ever recorded. Something like that would have
flattened most cities. New Zealands strict and well-enforced building codes saved Christchurch
from annihilation.

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale struck near the city of
Concepcin, in Chile. While the epicenter was not at the heart of the city, this quake was 100
times bigger than the one that leveled Port-au-Prince. It was so massive that it shortened the
length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the earth on its axis by eight centimeters.
When it was over, the entire city of Concepcin had been moved three yards to the west. The
death toll from this monster was 521. Each death was its own disaster, of course, but the number
was nevertheless astoundingly small for an earthquake that, by all rights, should have destroyed
Chile as a whole. So minimal was the damage that the Chileans rejected all offers of foreign aid;
they didnt need it. Chile did so well because its building codes are some of the strictest and most
advanced in the world and because the codes do not merely exist on paperthey are enforced.

Japanese learnt lessons from Kobe earthquake in 1995 and designed things accordingly:

In the wake of the Kobe quake, Japanese engineers took extensive measures to reinforce
buildings and infrastructure. They installed rubber blocks under bridges. They spaced buildings
farther apart to prevent domino-style tumbling. They introduced extra bracing, base isolation
pads, hydraulic shock absorbers. A minute before the March earthquake, automatic seismic
monitoring systems sent warnings to Japanese cell phones. Elevators glided obediently to the
nearest floor and opened. Surgeries were halted. Videos from Tokyo show skyscrapers swaying
gracefully, like cornstalks in the wind. Not one collapsed.

This planning helped a lot in 2011 earthquake.

Whereas Haiti and other regions did not plan and faced severe consequences.

The author then goes on to a different area. People know what technologies/planning to do.
Despite this, why dont countries plan knowing the threat? Moreover, with increasing urbanisation,
the threats will only rise. There are two theories to this.

First, people say only rich countries can afford these resources. How can poor countries
invest in these technologies which are going to be expensive. So best way for people to
plan for these things is to promote econ development. As economies develop and become
rich, they plan for such events. Till they develop you have no choice

Second, the first is obviously wrong. If you do not plan for these disasters you are likely to
become poorer. And then some econs like Turkey are rich enough to plan. Both Chile and
Turkey have similar per capita incomes and if former can plan latter can as well.

The article then shifts gears to Turkey (as the author lives there) which most believe would face a
massive earthquake in future. But there is just no planning.

There is not a geologist alive who doubts that a major earthquake is likely to hit Istanbul soon. In
2000, the U.S. Geological Survey put the odds of its happening within 30 years at 62 percent;
other survey teams give it 70 percent. Erdik has estimated that it will kill between 200,000 and
300,000 people. The cost of the cleanup$50 billion would be an optimistic estimatewill surely
set Turkeys economy back decades. It will be a political cataclysm, with massive ramifications for
the entire region.
Every day, I walk past buildings in Istanbul that are clearly unsound. I see ground floors, for
example, with walls or columns removed to make way for store displays, violating one of the
most important principles of earthquake-resistant construction. There are vast neighborhoods
filled with illegal, flimsy structures called gecekondu, which means landed overnight.
The gecekondu, which range from crude shanties to concrete multistory apartment blocks, house
hundreds of thousands of rural migrants who have come to Istanbul seeking work over the past
decade.Gecekondu arent built by engineers. They tend to be built on bad soil. They are packed
with children.

There is another interesting point she makes. There is a correlation between corruption and
construction. So more corrupt the countries are, more would be violations of construction rules
and ignoring seismic risks:

Fatalism kills. Short-term thinking kills. But above all, corruption kills. On the anniversary of the
Haiti earthquake, Nicholas Ambraseys and Roger Bilham published an extraordinary study
in Nature. Using data from Transparency Internationals Corruptions Perception Index, they
calculated that 83 percent of all deaths from building collapses in earthquakes in the past 30
years took place in countries that were anomalously corruptthat is, in countries that were
perceived to be more corrupt than you would predict from their per-capita income.

Economist Charles Kennys definitive 2007 study argues persuasively that the construction
industry is the most corrupt sector of the world economy. And the more corruption there is in
constructionwhether it consists of companies using substandard materials or of governments
granting permission to build in zones unsuitable for habitationthe likelier you are to die. In
China, the buildings that crumble during earthquakes are schools and hospitals, while the Partys
headquarters and the houses of its functionaries remain standing. In Turkey, building inspectors
work on the contractors payroll, creating a massive conflict of interest. Changing that system
could save countless lives. But the construction companies, for obvious reasons, dont want that
to happenand all of Turkeys major political parties run on construction money.

Apart from limited corruption, you need strict laws to penalise people who have erred and their
decisions have led to losses in human lives:

The absence of outright corruption isnt enough to keep countries safe; it is also essential to have
in place a particular kind of legal regime. Strong tort law is the key, and Chile is a model here as
well. During the recent earthquake, a new building in Concepcin collapsed. Its surviving
inhabitants took the builders to court, charging fraud and, in some cases, murder. Chilean law
holds the original owner of a building liable for any earthquake damage that it suffers during its
first decade, even if ownership has changed during that time. Because of this law, owners often
exceed the provisions of Chiles already strict building codes in their eagerness to avoid liability.
And accountability in the Chilean legal system goes to the top. In February, a Chilean court
declined to dismiss a lawsuit against the former president, Michelle Bachelet, and other senior
officials for malfunctions in the countrys tsunami-warning system.

In China, as youd expect, tort law is a joke. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which left nearly
90,000 dead or missing, Chinese courts dismissed a lawsuit filed by parents of children crushed
to death in collapsed schools. Those who protested were locked up. And in Turkey, the average
citizen wants nothing to do with the court system, believing it intimidating, incomprehensible,
rigged, and too expensive and time-consuming to usewhich it is. I speak from experience,
having taken to court a construction company that knocked down a wall of the building I lived in,
rendering it unsafe for habitation. Ive been suing them for years without issue. Last October,
charges against the officials who approved the construction of a school that collapsed in a 2003
earthquake, killing 64 students and a teacher, were dropped, owing to the expiration of the
statute of limitations. The amount that it costs to open a lawsuit represents a substantial portion
of an average Turks annual income.

Superb stuff.

The Claire article warns:

Spin the wheel: Bogot, Cairo, Caracas, Dhaka, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Katmandu,
Lima, Manila, Mexico City, New Delhi, Quito, Tehran. It will be one of them. It isnt too late to save
them. But we need to say the truth about why theyre at risk in the first place.

Barring Delhi, 37 Indian cities including Top metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata fall under
moderate to high risk seismic zones of the country.

Earthquake is a major issue of concern. Over 58.6 per cent of land in India is highly vulnerable to
earthquakes and 38 cities fall under moderate to high risk seismic zones, NDMA Vice Chairman
Shashidhar Reddy told PTI. Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Greater Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata,
Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Ahmedabad, Dehradun are some of the cities falling in the
vulnerability zone.

Noting that a large number of buildings constructed in the past have not been made earthquake
resistant, he said, NDMA is ensuring that the new constructions that come up are disaster
resistant and the old buildings are retrofitted. The NDMA is training a large number of architects,
engineers and masons to make sure that any new construction that comes up is earthquake

To have a typography study, a team of experts from six IITs led by IIT-Mumbai is working together
to classify buildings in 10 different types, to make all buildings earthquake resistant, he said. A
senior NDMA official said that 235 districts fall in the seismic zones IV and V. We need to take
into consideration structural safety, mitigation and preparedness and immediate response.
Lifeline buildings and telephone booths need to be retrofitted and critical installations in zone IV
areas should not be allowed, the official said.

However, here is a typical Indian set up problem:

Since making all buildings earthquake resistant is a state subject, NDMA has already written to
almost all the states to ensure safe construction as per disaster management guidelines.
However, a senior official rued No substantial response has been received so far.

I also did some research on Indias disaster management systems. Planning commission included
a chapter on disasters in 10th plan and 11th plan. Then we have two agencies
NDMA and NIDM looking at the issues. There are some interesting docs on school, building
designs etc in seismic danger areas.

I was reading this newsletter from NIDM (stopped after Q1 2010 edition. why?). It draws lessons
from Haiti and Chile:

Earthquakes do not kill people buildings do is the famous saying which was proved correct once
again in Haiti, where more than 230,000 people got killed, with an additional 300,000 injured, in
an Mw 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010. The impact of the earthquake was so severe that out
of nearly 5 million people living in the earthquake affected area, about 1.2 millions were rendered

In contrast to Haitis situation, there was an earthquake in Chile on February 27, 2010. The Chile
earthquake (Mw 8.8) was felt all along 600 km of the central Chile coast. The earthquake tested
numerous modern structures and facilities. Majority of Chilean built environment performed well
during this earthquake with few exceptions. As a result less than 500 people were killed during
this earthquake.

Lessons learnt from these two events indicate that the most important thing that matters in
disaster safety is the good governance practices. Chile is having very high rankings in
development indices in comparison to Haiti, like Human Development Index, Corruption
Perceptions Index, and Failed State Index. Due to very high standards of development Chile
enjoyed not only economic development in recent times, but also a noticeable adherence to strict
seismic building codes. In contrast, the Haiti was having no effective building codes, no planning
regulations, no development controls making the overall vulnerability of the Port-au-Prince very
high to face hazards like earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Here is the catch for making our built environment safe from earthquakes: ensure good
governance leading to implementation of proper planning norms and development control and
adherence to building codes and byelaws.

Hmm.. Pretty similar to what the above article also says. So we seem to have plans etc in place.
Implementation is where there seem to be problems. There is so much construction in
Delhi/Mumbai.. How many have been done following seismic guidelines? In Mumbai, most
buildings have no protection against a very well known natural event- heavy monsoon rains. Even
new buildings start leaking from the first rain itself. They even advise that buy/rent a new place
post monsoons. Construction is easily one of the most corrupt sectors in India and most likely we
would just be piling on more and more natural disaster risk

World's Largest Recorded Earthquake

9.5 Magnitude - May 22, 1960 near Valdivia, Chile

"The Great Chilean Earthquake"

The world's largest earthquake with an instrumentally documented magnitude occurred on May
22, 1960 near Valdivia, in southern Chile. It was assigned a magnitude of 9.5 by the United States
Geological Survey. It is referred to as the "Great Chilean Earthquake" and the "1960 Valdivia

The United States Geological Survey reports this event as the "largest earthquake of the 20th
Century." Other earthquakes in recorded history may have been larger; however, this is the
largest earthquake that has occurred since accurate estimates of magnitude became possible in
the early 1900
World's largest earthquake - tsunami
map: The Chilean earthquake
produced a powerful
tsunami that traveled at a speed of about 200
per hour across the Pacific Ocean. The wave killed 61
people in
Hawaii, 138 in Japan, and 32 in the
Philippines. The star marks the
location of the
epicenter, and the numbers on the contour lines are
travel times in hours for the wave front. Image by NOAA.
Local Damage from Ground Motion and
The earthquake occurred beneath the Pacific
Ocean off the coast of Chile. Ground motion from
this earthquake destroyed or damaged thousands
of buildings. The Chilean government estimated
that about 2,000,000 people were left homeless.
It was fortunate that the earthquake occurred in
the middle of the afternoon and was preceded by
a powerful foreshock. That foreshock frightened
most people from their buildings, placing them
outside when the main earthquake occurred.

Most of the damage and deaths were caused by a

series of tsunamis that were generated by the
earthquake. These waves swept over coastal
areas moments after the earthquake occurred.
They pushed buildings from their foundations and
drowned many people.

There are many different casualty estimates for

this earthquake. They range from a low of 490 to a high of "approximately 6000." Most of the
casualties were caused by tsunamis in Chile and from ground motion. However, people as far
away as the Philippines were killed by this event.

Largest earthquake - tsunami damage: An aerial

view of damage caused along the coast of Chile by the
tsunamis. This scene shows part of a coastal community
where homes were torn from their foundations and tossed
about by the waves. Damage was near total in these
areas. NOAA image by Pierre St. Amand.

The costs of the damage were estimated to have been between $400 and $800 million in 1960
dollars, which would be about $3 to $6 billion today, adjusted for inflation.

Tsunami Damage

This is one of the few earthquakes that has killed large numbers of people at distant locations.
Tsunamis generated by the earthquake traveled across the Pacific Ocean at a speed of over 200
miles per hour. Changes in sea level were noticed all around the Pacific Ocean basin.
Fifteen hours after the earthquake, a tsunami
with a runup of 35 feet swept over coastal areas
of Hawaii. Many shoreline facilities and buildings
near coastal areas were destroyed. Near Hilo,
Hawaii, 61 people were reported killed by the
Earthquake damage at Valdivia: Photograph of
buildings in Valdivia,
Chile damaged by the earthquake. This
photo shows houses located on
an area underlain by fill.
They slid downhill when the waterlogged soil beneath them
failed. NOAA image by Pierre St. Amand.

In California, many small boats were damaged as the waves swept through marinas. At Crescent
City, a wave had a runup of about 5 feet and caused damage to shoreline structures and small

Waves up to 18 feet high hit the island of Honshu, Japan about 22 hours after the earthquake.
There it destroyed more than 1600 homes and left 185 people dead or missing. Another 32
people were killed in the Philippines about 24 hours after the earthquake. Damage also occurred
on Easter Island and Samoa.

Subsidence and Uplift

The United States Geological Survey reports

that there was about five feet of subsidence
along the Chilean coast from the south end of
the Arauco Peninsula to Quellon on Chiloe
Island. This left a number of buildings below
water level at high tide. As much as ten feet of
uplift occurred at Isla Guafo.


This was a megathrust earthquake that

occurred at a depth of about 20 miles, where
the Nazca Plate is subducting beneath the
South American Plate. It produced a 500-mile-
long rupture zone extending from Talca, Chile to
the Chiloe Archipelago. Numerous large
earthquakes have occurred in this area before
and after the May 22, 1960 event.

Tsunami damage at Queule: Before and after

photographs of the village of Queule, Chile. This area was
damaged by land subsidence and was inundated by the
tsunami. Houses, boats, and uprooted trees were washed as much as a mile inland by a 13-foot-high tsunami. NOAA
image by Pierre St. Amand.
World's Twelve Largest Earthquakes

Includes all measured earthquakes since 1900

Magnitude Location Date

9.5 Chile 05/22/1960

9.2 Alaska 03/28/1964

9.1 Off the coast of Northern Sumatra 12/26/2004

9.0 Honshu, Japan 03/11/2011

9.0 Kamchatka 11/04/1952

8.8 Off the coast of Chile 02/27/2010

8.8 Off the coast of Ecuador 01/31/1906

8.7 Rat Islands, Alaska 02/04/1965

8.6 Northern Sumatra 03/28/2005

8.6 Tibet 08/15/1950

8.6 Off the coast of Northern Sumatra 04/11/2012

8.6 Andreanof Islands, Alaska 03/09/1957

Data from the United States Geological Survey.


The earthquake was preceded by four

foreshocks greater than magnitude 7.0. The
largest was a magnitude 7.9 earthquake one
day before that caused significant damage in
the Concepcion area.

Tsunami damage in Hawaii: A photo of a tsunami-

damaged area in
Hilo, Hawaii. The area in the
foreground was cleared of heavy
machinery, mill
rollers, and metal stocks that were strewn about by
the wave. USGS Photo.

Damage in Hawaii
(Quoted from: Tsunami in Hawaii. Lander, James F., and Lockridge, Patricia A., 1989, in: United
States Tsunamis 1690-1988: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric

"A devastating earthquake (magnitude 8.6) off

the coast of central Chile generated a tsunami
affecting the entire Pacific Basin. In general the
wave action along Hawaiian shores was quiet,
resembling that of the tide, although it had a
shorter period and a greater range. It killed 61
and seriously injured 43.

In Hilo Bay, however, the third wave was

converted into a bore that flooded inland to the 6
m contour. Nearly 240 hectares (600 acres)
inland of Hilo harbor were inundated, and all the
deaths and $23.5 million of the damage occurred
in this area. (The estimates of damage in Hawaii
vary from $75 million in Talley and Cloud (1962),
to $20 million in Wall (1960). A total of about $24
million for Hawaii is given by the Hawaiian office
of Civil Defense.)

Global seismic moment release: During the 100-

year period between 1906 and 2005, three earthquakes
accounted for nearly half of the world's total seismic
release. The 1960 Valdivia Earthquake accounted for greater
than 20% of the global seismic release. The width of thin
black wedge at slightly past 3:00 on the chart represents the release of
the deadly San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

In nearly half of this area total destruction occurred. In the area of maximum destruction, only
buildings of reinforced concrete or structural steel, and a few others sheltered by these buildings,
remained standing--and even these were generally gutted. Frame buildings either were crushed
or floated nearly to the limits of flooding. Dozens of automobiles were wrecked; a 10-metric-ton
tractor in a showroom was swept away; heavy machinery, mill rollers, and metal stocks were
strewn about. Rocks weighing as much as 20 metric tons were plucked from a sea wall and
carried as far as 180 m inland. Damage elsewhere on the Island of Hawaii was restricted to the
west and southern coasts, where about a dozen buildings, mostly of frame construction, were
floated off their foundations, crushed, or flooded. There was half a million dollars of damage on
the Kona coast alone. Six houses were destroyed at Napoopoo.

On Maui the damage was concentrated in the Kahului area on the north coast. A warehouse and
half a dozen houses were demolished, and other warehouses, stores, offices, and houses, and
their contents were damaged. A church floated 6.1 m away from its foundation. Other buildings
were damaged at Paukukalo, just outside and west of the harbor.

At Spreckelsville and Paia, east of Kahului, houses were damaged, and one house at each place
was demolished. Additional damage occurred at Kihei on the south coast and Lahaina on the west
coast. On the island of Molokai there was some damage to houses, fish ponds, and roads, and a
beachhouse was demolished on the Island of Lanai. The islands of Kauai and Oahu escaped with
only minor damage. Fifty houses at Kuliouou, an eastern suburb of Honolulu, were flooded, and
$250,000 in damage was done. Elsewhere on Oahu no damage was reported, even where there
was inundation of areas occupied by houses. On Kauai, so far as is known, the only damage
consisted of one frame building being floated off its foundation on the south coast."

Damage in California

(Quoted from: Tsunami on West Coast of United States. Lander, James F., and Lockridge, Patricia
A., 1989, in: United States Tsunamis 1690-
1988: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)

"The largest wave height in California was

measured at the Crescent City tide gage was
1.7 m. Waves of 1.5 m were observed at
Stenson Beach. The amplitude was more than
1.4 m at Santa Monica. The amplitude at Port
Hueneme was 1.3 m and 1.2 m at Pacifica. The
tsunami was recorded widely along the Pacific
coast with amplitudes less than 1 m. Two
vessels valued at $30,000 were lost at Crescent

Tsunami damage at Corral: Tsunami damage at

Corral, Chile. Buildings hat used to occupy this site were
pushed back against the hills by the tsunami, and some
were then carried out to sea by the receding waters.
NOAA image by Pierre St. Amand.

Major damage was reported in the Los Angeles

and Long Beach harbors. An estimated 300
small craft were set adrift and about 30 sunk
including a 24 m yacht which smashed into
bridge piers partially disabling the bridge. The
Yacht Center lost 235 boat landing slips and
110 more were destroyed at the Colonial Yacht
Anchorage and Cerritos Yacht Anchorage for a
loss of $300,000. A skin diver, Raymond Stuart,
was missing and presumed drowned at Cabrillo
Beach, but no death certificate was found. In
the harbor currents estimated to be 22 km/hr
snapped and washed out pilings.

Subsidence damage in Quellon: This view parallels

what used to be a waterfront street in the community of
Quellon, Chile. This area subsided about six feet during the
earthquake, flooding houses at low elevation. NOAA image
by Pierre St. Amand.
Many thousands of liters of gasoline and oil spilled from the overturn of the boats prompting fears
of a fire. Several buoys and navigational aids were swept away at Terminal Island. The Coast
Guard landing including the tide gage was washed 5.6 km to sea but was rescued. A mess boy fell
6 m from the bridge of the first ship to attempt to leave the harbor the next day. The ship
returned to harbor so his injuries could be treated at the hospital. The accident was blamed on
rough seas.

At San Diego, ferry service was interrupted after one passenger-laden ferry smashed into the dock
at Coronado knocking out eight pilings. A second ferry was forced 1.5 km off course and into a
flotilla of anchored destroyers. More than 80 m of dock were destroyed. A 100 ton dredge
rammed the concrete pilings supporting the Mission Bay bridge tearing out a 21 m section. A 45
m bait barge smashed eight slips at the Seaforth Landing before breaking in half and sinking. The
currents swept 12 and 30 m floats from the San Diego Harbor Masters Pier on Shelter Island and
swept away two sections of dockage at the Southwest Yacht Club at Point Loma.

At Santa Monica the water fell so low that the bottom of the breakwater was nearly exposed.
Eight small craft snapped mooring lines but were taken in tow. One surge swept more than 91 m
up the beach flooding a parking lot just off the Pacific coast Highway.

At Santa Barbara a drifting oil exploration barge repeatedly rammed the new dredge causing at
least $10,000 in damage. An additional $10,000 was done elsewhere including damage to 40
small craft set adrift there."

Largest Earthquakes in the World Since 1900

The lists and statistics on this webpage have not been updated since December 2012. Many of
these will be updated and available when we have completed the transition into the new
earthquake database. We hope to provide this sometime in 2015.

Date Magnit
Location UTC ude Lat. Long. Reference
1960 05 -
1. Chile 22 9.5 38.29 -73.05 Kanamori, 1977

1964 Great Alaska 1964 03 147.6
2. Earthquake 28 9.2 61.02 5 Kanamori, 1977

Off the West Coast of 2004 12

3. Northern Sumatra 26 9.1 3.30 95.78 Park et al., 2005

Near the East Coast of 2011 03 38.32 142.3

4. Honshu, Japan 11 9.0 2 69 PDE

1952 11 160.0
5. Kamchatka 04 9.0 52.76 6 Kanamori, 1977

- -
2010 02 35.84 72.71
6. Offshore Maule, Chile 27 8.8 6 9 PDE

1906 01
7. Off the Coast of Ecuador 31 8.8 1.0 -81.5 Kanamori, 1977

1965 02 178.5
8. Rat Islands, Alaska 04 8.7 51.21 0 Kanamori, 1977

Northern Sumatra, 2005 03

9. Indonesia 28 8.6 2.08 97.01 PDE

10 1950 08
. Assam - Tibet 15 8.6 28.5 96.5 Kanamori, 1977

11 Off the west coast of 2012 04 93.06

. northern Sumatra 11 8.6 2.311 3 PDE

12 1957 03 175.3 Johnson et al.,
. Andreanof Islands, Alaska 09 8.6 51.56 9 1994

13 Southern Sumatra, 2007 09 - 101.3

. Indonesia 12 8.5 4.438 67 PDE

14 1938 02 131.6 Okal and

. Banda Sea, Indonesia 01 8.5 -5.05 2 Reymond, 2003

15 1923 02
. Kamchatka 03 8.5 54.0 161.0 Kanamori, 1988

16 1922 11 -
. Chile-Argentina Border 11 8.5 28.55 -70.50 Kanamori, 1977
17 1963 10
. Kuril Islands 13 8.5 44.9 149.6 Kanamori, 1977

Updated 2012 April 11

The Andreanof Islands, Alaska earthquake of 1957 03 09, previously listed with a magnitude o f
9.1, has had its magnitude reviewed, and it was updated to 8.6.

The Ningxia-Gansu, China earthquake of 1920 12 16, previously listed with a magnitude of 8.6,
has had its magnitude reviewed, and it was updated to 7.8.

The Tonga earthquake of 1917 06 26, previously listed with a magnitude of 8.5, has had its
magnitude reviewed, and it was updated to 8.4.

1960 May 22 19:11:14 UTC
Magnitude 9.5

The Largest Earthquake in the World

Approximately 1,655 killed, 3,000 injured, 2,000,000

homeless, and $550 million damage in southern Chile;
tsunami caused 61 deaths, $75 million damage in
Hawaii; 138 deaths and $50 million damage in Japan;
32 dead and missing in the Philippines; and $500,000
damage to the west coast of the United States.

Severe damage from shaking occurred in the Valdivia-

Puerto Montt area. Most of the casualties and much of
the damage was because of large tsunamis which
caused damage along the coast of Chile from Lebu to
Puerto Aisen and in many areas of the Pacific Ocean.
Puerto Saavedra was completely destroyed by waves
which reached heights of 11.5 m (38 ft) and carried
remains of houses inland as much as 3 km (2 mi).
Wave heights of 8 m (26 ft) caused much damage at

Tsunamis caused 61 deaths and severe damage in Hawaii, mostly at Hilo, where the runup height
reached 10.6 m (35 ft). Waves as high as 5.5 m (18 ft) struck northern Honshu about 1 day after
the quake, where it destroyed more than 1600 homes and left 185 people dead or missing.
Another 32 people were dead or missing in the Philippines after the tsunami hit those islands.
Damage also occurred on Easter Island, in the Samoa Islands and in California. One to 1.5 m (3-5
ft) of subsidence occurred along the Chilean coast from the south end of the Arauco Peninsula to
Quellon on Chiloe Island. As much of 3 m (10 ft) of uplift occurred on Isla Guafo. Many landslides
occurred in the Chilean Lake District from Lago Villarica to Lago Todos los Santos.
On May 24, Volcan Puyehue erupted, sending ash and steam as high as 6,000 m. The eruption
continued for several weeks.

This quake was preceded by 4 foreshocks bigger than magnitude 7.0, including a magnitude 7.9
on May 21 that caused severe damage in the Concepcion area. Many aftershocks occurred, with 5
of magnitude 7.0 or greater through Nov 1.

This is the largest earthquake of the 20th Century. The rupture zone is estimated to be about
1000 km long, from Lebu to Puerto Aisen.

Note that the tsunami deaths from outside Chile are included in the 1,655 total. This is still
considerably fewer than some estimates which were as high as 5,700. However, Rothe and others
state that the initial reports were greatly overestimated. The death toll for this huge earthquake
was less than it might have been because it it occurred in the middle of the afternoon, many of
the structures had been built to be earthquake-resistant and the series of strong foreshocks had
made the population wary.

Valdivia suffered catastrophic damage because

of its proximity to the epicenter of the massive

1964 Great Alaska Earthquake

1964 March 28 03:36 UTC
1964 March 27 05:36 p.m. local time
Magnitude 9.2

Largest Earthquake in Alaska

This great earthquake and ensuing tsunami
took 131 lives (tsunami 122, earthquake 9),
and caused about $2.3 billion in property loss
(in 2013 dollars; equivalent to $311 million in
1964). Earthquake effects were heavy in many
towns, including Anchorage, Chitina,
Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai,
Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward,
Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.

Anchorage, about 120 kilometers northwest of

the epicenter, sustained the most severe
damage to property. About 30 blocks of
dwellings and commercial buildings were
damaged or destroyed in the downtown area.
The J.C. Penney Company building was
damaged beyond repair; the Four Seasons
apartment building, a new six-story structure,
collapsed; and many other multistory buildings
were damaged heavily. The schools in Anchorage were almost devastated. The Government Hill
Grade School, sitting astride a huge landslide, was almost a total loss. Anchorage High School and
Denali Grade School were damaged severely. Duration of the shock was estimated at 3 minutes.

Landslides in Anchorage caused heavy damage. Huge slides occurred in the downtown business
section, at Government Hill, and at Turnagain Heights. The largest and most devastating landslide
occurred at Turnagain Heights. An area of about 130 acres was devastated by displacements that
broke the ground into many deranged blocks that were collapsed and tilted at all angles. This
slide destroyed about 75 private houses. Water mains and gas, sewer, telephone, and electrical
systems were disrupted throughout the area.

Five-story J.C. Penney Building, 5th Avenue and Downing Street, Anchorage, Alaska,
partly collapsed by the March 28, 1964 earthquake. Note undamaged buildings
Landslide and slumping effects in the Turnagain Heights area, Anchorage, Alaska,
caused by the March 28, 1964, earthquake.

2004 Northern Sumatra Earthquake

2004 December 26 UTC
Magnitude 9.0
The giant 2004 Sumatra earthquake ruptured the
greatest fault length of any recorded earthquake,
spanning a distance of 1500 km (900 miles), or
longer than the state of California. Rather than
tearing the land apart all at once, the rupture
started beneath the epicenter marked in the figure
below and progressed northward along the fault at
about 2 km/sec (1.2 miles/second). The whole
rupture lasted about 10 minutes. Compare this with
California's 1994 Northridge earthquake, which
ruptured about 20 km (12 miles) and lasted 15

The portion of the fault that ruptured lies deep in

the earth's crust, in places as much as 50 km (31
miles) below the ocean floor. There the two tectonic
plates, which had been stuck together, suddenly
broke free, the upper plate sliding back upward and
to the west by as much as 20 m (65 feet) along the
plate boundary.

Figure 1 Map of Sumatra region showing the extent

of the ruptured fault lines for the three most recent
giant quakes. Green shows 2004, red shows 2005, and blue
and yellow show 2007. The islands are: An=Andaman

When the crustal plates slipped during the earthquake, some islands in the subduction zone grew
as they were lifted above the water line, while others tipped over and partially submerged as they
subsided. The island in Figure 2 doubled in size during the quake; the land surrounding the green
area shows how much this island was uplifted.
On other islands, such as that shown in Figure
3, many homes were suddently submerged as
the land subsided during the quake.

Figure 2 An island suddenly uplifted after the

Dec 2004 quake. Before the quake the island
was only as large as the green area covered in
trees. Credit: Kerry Sieh, TO
As the rupture propagated, it caused the ocean
floor to spring back to the west by as much as
6 m (20 feet), as well as uplift by 2 m (6 feet).
The displacement of the ocean floor was as
sudden as a hiccup, and shoved the water
above it upwards. This giant push of water
generated a series of tsunami waves, the first
of which hit Sumatra 25 minutes after the start
of the quake. The waves had grown to 100 feet
(30 m) high in some places. More tsunami
waves struck Thailand two hours later, and
other countries around the Indian Ocean were
hit a few hours later.

Figure 3 An island suddenly subsided after the Dec 2004 quake. Credit: Kerry Sieh, TO

This giant quake of 2004 was followed just four months later by the magnitude 8.7 quake of
March 28, 2005. This one was west of Sumatra, under the islands of Nias and Simeulue. Although
the 2005 quake was one tenth as powerful as the 2004 quake, it is still the fourth largest quake of
the last 100 years, and many lives were lost. A third major quake followed two and a half years
later. The magnitude 8.4 event of September 13, 2007 rocked the Mentawai islands. Figure 1
shows a detailed map of the rupture zones for all three of these giant quakes.

2011 Honshu, Japan

2011 March 11 UTC
Magnitude 9.1

Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, also

called Great Sendai Earthquake or Great Thoku
Earthquake, severe natural disaster that occurred in
northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. The event
began with a powerful earthquake off the
northeastern coast of Honshu, Japans main island,
which caused widespread damage on land and
initiated a series of large tsunami waves that
devastated many coastal areas of the country, most
notably in the Thoku region (northeastern Honshu).
The tsunami also instigated a major nuclear
accident at a power station along the coast

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck at

2:46 pm. (The early estimate of
magnitude 8.9 was later revised
upward.) The epicentre was located
some 80 miles (130 km) east of the city
of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, and the
focus occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles
(about 30 km) below the floor of the
western Pacific Ocean. The earthquake
was caused by the rupture of a stretch
of the subduction zone associated with
the Japan Trench, which separates
the Eurasian Plate from the
subducting Pacific Plate. (Some
geologists argue that this portion of the
Eurasian Plate is actually a fragment of
the North American Plate called
the Okhotsk microplate.) A part of the
subduction zone measuring
approximately 190 miles (300 km) long
by 95 miles (150 km) wide lurched as
much as 164 feet (50 metres) to the
east-southeast and thrust upward about
33 feet (10 metres). The March 11
temblor was felt as far away
as Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,
Russia; Kao-hsiung, Taiwan; and Beijing,
China. It was preceded by several
foreshocks, including a magnitude-7.2
event centred approximately 25 miles
(40 km) away from the epicentre of the
main quake. Hundreds of aftershocks,
dozens of magnitude 6.0 or greater and
two of magnitude 7.0 or greater,
followed in the days and weeks after the
main quake. (Nearly two years later, on
December 7, 2012, a magnitude-7.3
tremor originated from the same plate
boundary region. The quake caused no injuries and little damage.) The March 11, 2011,
earthquake was the strongest to strike the region since the beginning of record keeping in the late
19th century, and it is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. It was
later reported that a satellite orbiting at the outer edge of Earths atmosphere that day had
detected infrasonics (very low-frequency sound waves) from the quake.
The sudden horizontal and vertical thrusting of the Pacific Plate, which has been slowly advancing
under the Eurasian Plate near Japan, displaced the water above and spawned a series of highly
destructive tsunami waves. A wave measuring some 33 feet high inundated the coast and flooded
parts of the city of Sendai, including its airport and the surrounding countryside. According to
some reports, one wave penetrated some 6 miles (10 km) inland after causing the Natori River,
which separates Sendai from the city of Natori to the south, to overflow. Damaging tsunami waves
struck the coasts of Iwate prefecture, just north of Miyagi prefecture, and Fukushima, Ibaraki,
and Chiba, the prefectures extending along the Pacific coast south of Miyagi. In addition to Sendai,
other communities hard-hit by the tsunami included Kamaishi and Miyako in
Iwate; Ishinomaki, Kesennuma, and Shiogama in Miyagi; and Kitaibaraki and Hitachinaka in Ibaraki. As
the floodwaters retreated back to the sea, they carried with them enormous quantities of debris,
as well as thousands of victims caught in the deluge. Large stretches of land were left submerged
under seawater, particularly in lower-lying areas.

The earthquake triggered tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific basin. The tsunami raced
outward from the epicentre at speeds that approached about 500 miles (800 km) per hour. It
generated waves 11 to 12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 metres) high along the coasts of Kauai and Hawaii in
the Hawaiian Islands chain and 5-foot (1.5-metre) waves along the island of Shemya in the Aleutian
Islands chain. Several hours later 9-foot (2.7-metre) tsunami waves struck the coasts
of California and Oregon in North America. Finally, some 18 hours after the quake, waves roughly 1
foot (0.3 metre) high reached the coast of Antarctica and caused a portion of the Sulzberger Ice
Shelf to break off its outer edge.

1952 November 04 16:58:26.0 UTC
Magnitude 9.0
N.B: The magnitude for this earthquake has been recalculated since the following articles were
written. Magnitude 9.0 is a better determination of the size of this earthquake.

A severe and locally damaging tsunami generated on Kamchatka by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake
struck the Hawaiian Islands at 1:00 P.M. Property damage from these waves was estimated at
$800,000 to $1,000,000; however, no lives were lost. The waves beached boats, caused houses
to collide, destroyed piers, scoured beaches, moved road pavement, etc. A farmer on Oahu
reported 6 cows killed. In Honolulu harbor, waves tore a cement barge from its moorings and
hurled it against the freighter Hawaiian Packer. At Pearl Harbor, Oahu, the tsunami was evidenced
by the periodic rise and fall of the water, but no damage was done. Loomis (1967) reports wave
heights of 9.1 m at Kaena Point, Oahu. Pararas-Carayannis and Calebaugh, (1977) report much
damage on Oahu's north coast including Waialua. A boathouse worth $13,000 was demolished in
Hilo when water 2.4 m high swept over the wharf. One span of the bridge to Coconut Island was
destroyed. The highest wave on Hawaii of 3.5 m above MLLW (or 3.2 m above the tide stage) was
reported here and at Reed's Bay. The Naniloa Hotel had flood damage. Houses were knocked from
their foundations. Coast Guard buoys weighing 11 metric tons were ripped loose from their
moorings. Damage in Hilo, Hawaii was estimated at $400,000. Damage on Maui was greatest in
the Kahului-Spreckelsville area. The wave caused the tide gaga at Kahului to go off scale and stop
recording. Pararas-Carayannis and Calebaugh report 10.4 m at Haena Point, Kauai, but this is
identical to the value for the March 3, 1957 tsunami and is probably a misplaced value. They also
report much damage to the north coast of Kauai.

From Lander and Lockridge, 1989, Tsunami in Hawaii.

A magnitude 8.2 earthquake off the Kamchatka Peninsula produced a tsunami that was observed
in Alaska. At Massacre Bay, Attu the wave had an amplitude of 2.7 m and a period of about 17
minutes. This record was observed on the tide staff as the gage was not operating initially and the
record was clipped. Low-lying areas were flooded. At Sweeper Cove, Adak the tsunami had an
amplitude of about 1.1 m and slightly overflowed the banks of the harbor. At Dutch Harbor,
Unalaska the schools were closed, and the people evacuated to higher ground, but the wave was
only 0.6 m high. It was widely recorded elsewhere throughout Alaska with amplitudes of 0.3 m or

From Lander and Lockridge, 1989, Tsunami in Alaska

A magnitude 8.2 earthquake off the east coast of Kamchatka generated 13-m waves locally. In
California the amplitude of the wave was 1.4 m at Avila, 1.0 m at Crescent City, and less than 1 m
elsewhere on the West Coast.

Top 10 Strongest Earthquakes to hit the Philippines

October 8, 2015

Whats left of Maribojoc Church after the

magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol.

We all know that the Philippines is

located along the Pacific Ring of Fire,
which is the reason why our country is
prone to seismic and volcanic activity.

Now, the country is preparing for The

Big One, a magnitude 7.2 magnitude
earthquake from the West Valley Fault
which is expected to hit Metro Manila and
Quezon City. Thus, the Office of Civil
Defense (OCD) in coordination with the
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and other
government agencies has been
conducting series of earthquake drills. This is to prepare the people for the estimated impacts
projected in the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS). According to
MMEIRS, The Big One could destroy about 40% of residential buildings and damage 35 percent
of public buildings. It could also result to 34,000 casualties, 114,000 individuals will be seriously
injured, and the possible fire incidents that would follow could add another 18,000 deaths. With
the drills and information campaigns conducted, the authorities are hoping that those numbers
would be lessened.

Actually, there had been many stronger earthquakes which hit the Philippines since 1600s but
they caused lesser damage to properties. Casualties were also fewer because the cities then
werent so densely populated unlike today. And as we know, Manila is the most densely populated
city in the Philippines, if a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits, there would surely be thousands of
casualties and billions of damages on properties and infrastructures.

The following are top 10 strongest earthquakes in the Philippines that caused major destructions
and casualties:

1. Magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Mindanao (August 17, 1976)

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake took place near Mindanao and Sulu a little past midnight of August
17, 1976 that was felt as far as Visayas. It was then followed by a massive 4 to 5 meters high
tsunami covering 700 kilometers of coastline bordering the island. Because it was dark, the
people were caught by the raging water which claimed 8,000 lives, injuring 10,000, and leaving
90,000 more, homeless.

2. Magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Northern and Central Luzon (July 16, 1990)

A total of 2,412 people died and at least 10-billion worth of damages to public and private
properties was reported after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Northern and Central Luzon at
around 4:00 p.m. of July 16, 1990.

Hyatt Terraces Plaza, Nevada Hotel, Baguio Hilltop Hotel, Baguio Park Hotel, and FRB Hotel, all in
Baguio collapsed trapping and burying people alive.

Although the epicenter was recorded in Nueva Ecija, it caused more damage in the City of Pines.
And the quake that just lasted for about a minute was one of the tragedies in the country that
would never be forgotten.

3. Magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Luzon (November 30, 1645)

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake that crushed Luzon on November 30, 1645 at about 8:00 pm was
called the most terrible earthquake in Philippines history. The Epicenter of the said quake was in
Nueva Ecija caused by the San Manuel and Gabaldon Faults.

The extent of the tremor was felt as far as Cagayan Valley. It has caused many landslides which
buried many people alive and destroyed many buildings and churches including Manila Cathedral.

That time, only Spanish are counted so the recorded number of casualties was only 600 while the
injured was 3,000.

4. Magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Casiguran (August 2, 1968)

Most of the people in Casiguran, Aurora was still fast asleep when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake
struck at 4:19 a.m. of August 2, 1968.
It was another deadly and shocking seismic activity in the country. And the City of Manila got the
most severe damage. Many buildings were either damaged or destroyed totally.

The said event was also called the Ruby Tower earthquake after the said six-story building located
in Binondo collapsed, and caused the death of 260 people. A total of 268 people died that day and
261 more were injured.

5. Magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol (October 15, 2013)

I can still remember how people panicked in the morning of October 15, 2013. It was around 8:12
a.m. when a strong earthquake was felt here in Tacloban City. Only to find out after the lights
came back that what we have experienced was nothing compared to the damage it caused in
Bohol which was the epicenter of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

The quake affected most of Central Visayas, particularly Bohol and Cebu. It was felt in the whole
area of Visayas and reached as far as Masbate Island in the north and Cotabato in Southern

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of
222 people died, 8 went missing and 976 others were injured. An estimated 73,000 structures
were damaged wherein more than 14,500 of which were destroyed totally.

6. Magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mindoro (November 15, 1994)

November 15, 1994, at around 3:15 a.m., a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Mindoro. A gigantic
8.5 meters (28 ft) tsunami then followed which devastated the islands of Baco and Calapan,

A total of 7,566 houses were washed out and some 78 people died because of that tragedy.

7. Magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Central Visayas (February 6, 2012)

A total of 51 people died, 62 still missing and 112 were injured when a 6.9 earthquake Central
Visayas, particularly Negros and parts of Mindanao on February 6, 2012.

It caused a landslide which buried a barangay, damaged 15,483 houses, and a total damage of
383-million on infrastructures and buildings was recorded.

8. Magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Central and Southern Mindanao (March 5, 2002)

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake resulted to the death of 15 people and injuring around a hundred
more in Central and Southern Mindanao on March 5, 2002.

The said quake originated near the Cotabato Trench that was followed by a tsunami. But it was
the flood that was generated by landslides and falling debris that caused damage to an estimated
800 buildings.

9. Magnitude 6.5 quake in Ilocos Norte (August 17, 1983)

The magnitude 6.5 quake in Ilocos Norte on August 17, 1983 happened around 8:18 p.m. and
resulted to 16 casualties and 47 people got injured.

It caused damages on various establishments such as schools, buildings, malls, residences, and
etc. There were also landslides and sand boils that followed the event.
10. Magnitude 7.6 earthquake happened near Guiuan, Eastern Samar (August 31,

A very strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 happened near Guiuan, Eastern Samar on
August 31, 2012 that was felt as far as Mindanao.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) issued a tsunami warning
Level 3, but it was lifted 5 hours later.

The quake caused damage on homes, bridges, and other infrastructures. There were also power
interruptions in the affected areas. But despite the intensity only one person was reported dead
and one injured because of the landslide in Cagayan de Oro City.

The bad thing about an earthquake is that we cannot prevent it and we cannot predict it. We do
not know when exactly it would happen. Because of that, it would be better for us to be prepared
at all times. Participate in Earthquake drills conducted by authorities, keep an emergency kit in
the house, dont panic when it happens and most importantly dont forget to pray.

Earthquakes result from sudden energy releases in the earths crust, which create seismic waves
that result in ground shaking. Earthquakes are usually caused by slippage on a fault due to built
up friction between tectonic plates but can also be caused by volcanic eruptions or manmade
explosions 4. Millions of earthquakes occur each year, though only a small proportion is strong
enough to be felt and even fewer cause damage. Earthquakes occur at focal depths of 700 km to
just under the earths surface, and the strength of shaking diminishes with increasing distance
from the earthquakes source 5. Earthquake magnitude measures the energy released by an
earthquake and is described by the moment magnitude scale, which is a logarithmic scale, so that
a magnitude 5 earthquake is about 10 times less powerful than a 6, and 100 times less that a
magnitude 7. A magnitude 2.5 earthquake is not generally felt by humans, whereas earthquakes
with magnitude >7.0 may cause widespread destruction 6. Earthquake impact is assessed by the
Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, which describes the severity of damages from the event on a
scale from I to XII, with I being no damage and XII being complete destruction with no surviving
structures. Building design, geography and development indicators are important factors in
earthquake vulnerability. The objectives of this review were to describe the impact of earthquakes
on the human population, in terms of mortality, injury, and displacement and to identify country
and event characteristics factors associated with these outcomes. This is one of five reviews on
the human impacts of natural disasters, the others being volcanoes, floods, tsunamis, and

Earthquakes were responsible for an estimated 1.87 million deaths in the 20th century with an
average of 2,052 fatalities per event affecting humans between 1990 and 2010 1,2. The magnitude
8.9 Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami in March 2011 was responsible for more than 28,000
deaths; in comparison, the smaller magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurring in Haiti in January 2010
resulted in an estimated 222,500 fatalities 2. In recent history, the Pacific Rim is the most affected
by seismic activity, with 81% of the worlds largest earthquakes occurring in this region 3.