Natural and Man-Made Disasters


What is the strongest earthquake ever measured?

It was one that shook Chile on May 22, 1960; it measured 9.5 on the Richter scale. Two thousand died, 3,000 were injured, and 2 million were left homeless. Damage was $550 million. The quake also spawned tsunamis (seismic waves), which claimed 61 lives in Hawaii, 138 in Japan, and 32 dead or missing in the Philippines.

What was the most damaging earthquake in recent history?

It was a July 28, 1976, quake that rocked the Chinese city of Tangshan at four o’clock in the morning. In less than a minute, 89 percent of the homes and 78 percent of the industrial buildings were destroyed, killing 250,000 people, according to the official reports. However, international observers believe the death toll was even higher, about 750,000, which means that the quake claimed three-fourths of the area’s total population.

A quake had not occurred in that region in six centuries, and the area was considered to be at low risk for earthquakes. Consequently, the building codes in the region were not stringent enough for the structures to withstand the force of the quake.


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