Natural and Man-Made Disasters,
Worldwide Historical Natural Disasters

Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions

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A.D. 79 Aug. 24, Italy: eruption of Mt. Vesuvius buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing thousands.
A.D. 79 Dec. 22,
Damghan, Iran:
earthquake killed 200,000.
 893 March 23,
Ardabil, Iran:
earthquake killed about 150,000 people.
1138 Aug. 9,
Aleppo, Syria:
deadly earthquake claimed lives of 230,000 people.
1290 Sept.,
Chihli, China:
earthquake killed about 100,000 people.
1556 Jan. 23,
Shaanxi (Shensi) province, China:
most deadly earthquake in history; 830,000 killed.
1667 Nov.,
Shemakha, Caucasia:
earthquake killed about 80,000 people.
1727 Nov. 18,
Tabriz, Iran:
about 77,000 victims killed in deadly earthquake.
1755 Nov. 1,
Portugal:
earthquake leveled Lisbon and was felt as far away as southern France and North Africa; 70,000 killed.
1783 June 8,
Iceland:
eruption of Laki volcano lasted until Feb. 1784. Haze from eruption resulted in loss of island's livestock and widespread crop failure; 9,350 deaths, mostly due to starvation.
1792 May 21,
Kyushu Island, Japan:
collapse of old lava dome during eruption of Unzen volcano caused avalanche and tsunami that killed an estimated 14,300 people. (Most were killed by the tsunami.) Japan's greatest volcano disaster.
1811 Dec. 16,
Mississippi Valley nr. New Madrid, Mo.:
earthquake reversed the course of the Mississippi River. Fatalities unknown due to sparse population in area. Aftershocks and tremors continued into 1812. It has been estimated that three of the series of earthquakes had surface-wave magnitudes of 8.6, 8.4, and 8.8 on the Richter scale. It is the largest series of earthquakes known to have occurred in North America.
1815 April 5, 10-11,
Netherlands Indies (Sumbawa, Indonesia):
eruption of Tambora largest in historic times. An estimated 92,000 people were killed, about 10,000 directly as a result of explosions and ash fall and about 82,000 indirectly by starvation and disease.
1877 June 26,
north-central Ecuador:
eruption of Mt. Cotopaxi caused severe mudflows that wiped out surrounding cities and valleys; 1,000 deaths.
1883 Aug. 26-28,
Netherlands Indies (Krakatau, Indonesia):
eruption of Krakatau; violent explosions destroyed two-thirds of island, leaving an estimated 36,000 dead. Sea waves occurred as far away as Cape Horn and possibly England.
1886 Aug. 31,
Charleston, S.C.:
60 people killed and extensive damage to city. Earthquake's magnitude was 7.7 on the Richter scale.
1902 May 7,
St. Vincent, West Indies:
Soufrière volcano erupted, devastating one-third of the island and killing some 1,680 people.
1902 May 8,
Martinique, West Indies:
Mt. Pelée erupted and wiped out city of St. Pierre; 40,000 dead.
1906 April 18,
San Francisco:
earthquake accompanied by fire razed more than 4 sq mi; more than 500 dead or missing.
1908 Dec. 28,
Messina, Sicily:
city totally destroyed by earthquake. Death toll 70,000–100,000 in Sicily and southern Italy.
1915 Jan. 13,
Avezzano, Italy:
earthquake left 29,980 dead.
1920 Dec. 16,
Gansu province, China:
magnitude 8.6 earthquake killed 200,000 in northwest China.
1923 Sept. 1,
Japan:
magnitude 8.3 earthquake destroyed one third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama. More than 140,000 killed.
1927 May 22,
nr. Xining, China:
magnitude 8.3 earthquake claimed approximately 200,000 victims.
1932 Dec. 25,
Gansu, China:
magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed approximately 70,000.
1933 March 10,
Long Beach, Calif.:
117 left dead by earthquake.
1935 May 30,
Pakistan:
earthquake at Quetta killed 30,000–60,000.
1939 Jan. 24,
Chile:
earthquake razed 50,000 sq mi; about 30,000 killed.
1939 Dec. 27,
northern Turkey:
severe quakes destroyed city of Erzingan; about 100,000 casualties.
1950 Aug. 15,
India:
earthquake affected 30,000 sq mi in Assam; 20,000–30,000 believed killed.
1960 Feb. 29,
Agadir, Morocco:
10,000–12,000 dead as earthquake set off tidal wave and fire, destroying most of city.
1960 May 22,
Chile:
strongest earthquake ever recorded (9.5 magnitude) struck near the coast, killing more than 2,000, wounding 3,000.
1964 March 28,
Alaska:
strongest earthquake ever to strike North America (9.2 magnitude) hit 80 mi east of Anchorage; followed by seismic wave 50 ft high that traveled 8,445 mi at 450 mph; 117 killed.
1970 Jan. 5,
Yunnan province, China:
magnitude 7.7 quake killed 15,621.
1970 May 31,
Peru:
earthquake left more than 50,000 dead, 17,000 missing.
1972 Dec. 22, Managua,
Nicaragua:
earthquake devastated city, leaving up to 6,000 dead.
1976 Feb. 4,
Guatemala:
quake left over 23,000 dead.
1976 July 28,
Tangshan, China:
worst earthquake to hit China in 20th century; devastated 20 sq mi of city, leaving 242,000 dead (official). Estimated death toll as high as 655,000.
1976 Aug. 17,
Mindanao, Philippines:
earthquake and tidal wave left up to 8,000 dead or missing.
1978 Sept. 16,
Tabas, Iran:
earthquake destroyed city in eastern Iran, leaving 25,000 dead.
1985 Sept. 19-20,
Mexico:
magnitude 8.1 earthquake devastated part of Mexico City and three coastal states; estimated 25,000 killed.
1985 Nov. 14-16,
Colombia:
eruption of Nevada del Ruiz, 85 mi northwest of Bogotá. Mudslides buried most of the town of Armero and devastated Chinchiná; estimated 25,000 killed.
1988 Dec. 7,
Armenia:
earthquake measuring 6.9 in magnitude killed nearly 25,000, injured 15,000, and left at least 400,000 homeless.
1989 Oct. 17,
San Francisco Bay area:
earthquake measuring 7.1 in magnitude killed 67 and injured over 3,000. Over 100,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Damage cost city billions of dollars.
1990 June 21,
northwest Iran:
earthquake measuring 7.7 in magnitude destroyed cities and villages in Caspian Sea area. At least 50,000 dead, over 60,000 injured, and 400,000 homeless.
 July 16,
northern Philippines:
magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000.
1991 July 15,
Luzon Island, Philippines:
eruption of Mt. Pinatubo buried over 300 sq mi under volcanic ash and resulted in more than 800 deaths.
1993 Aug. 8,
Guam:
earthquake measuring 8.1 in magnitude caused severe damage to many structures but no fatalities. Damages were estimated at nearly $300 million.
1994 Jan. 17,
San Fernando Valley, Calif.:
earthquake measuring 6.6 in magnitude killed 61 and injured over 8,000. Damage estimated at $13–20 billion.
1995 Jan. 17,
Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, Japan:
5,100 killed and 26,800 injured; estimated damage $100 billion. Magnitude: 7.2.
1997 May 12,
northeast Iran:
severe earthquake measuring 7.1 in magnitude left more than 1,500 people dead and at least 4,460 injured.
1997 June-Sept.,
southern Montserrat:
ongoing eruption of Soufrière Hills volcano since July 1995; killed 20 people in major eruption on June 25, 1997, rendered southern two-thirds of Montserrat uninhabitable, and forced some 8,000 of the island's 12,000 residents to abandon the island.
1998 May 30,
northern Afghanistan:
magnitude 7.1 earthquake and aftershocks killed an estimated 5,000 and injured at least 1,500. A quake on Feb. 4 in same area had killed about 2,300.
1999 Jan. 25,
Armenia, Colombia:
1,124 dead and 4,000 injured in magnitude 6 earthquake. More than 200,000 left homeless.
1999 Aug. 17,
northwest Turkey:
magnitude 7.4 quake centered near Izmit killed over 17,000 and injured about 44,000. Damage estimated at $8.5 billion. Another severe 7.2 temblor killed more than 700 in Ducze and nearby towns in Nov.
1999 Sept. 21,
central Taiwan:
severe 7.7 earthquake and aftershocks killed 2,295 and injured 8,729.
2001 Jan. 13,
El Salvador:
magnitude 7.7 earthquake set off some 185 landslides across El Salvador; at least 850 died and nearly 100,000 houses were destroyed.
2001 Jan. 26,
Bhuj, India:
magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked western Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 20,000 people and leaving 600,000 homeless.
2002 March 25,
northeast Afghanistan:
series of earthquakes—the largest measuring 6.1 in magnitude—rattled an area 100 mi north of Kabul. Estimated 1,000 people killed and 7,000 families homeless. The city of Nahrin, a densely populated district capital, was completely razed.
2003 May 21,
Northern Algeria:
magnitude 6.8 earthquake caused the collapse of numerous buildings, killed more than 2,250 people, and injured 10,000. The epicenter was 40 miles east of Algiers, the capital city.
2003 Dec 26,
Bam, Iran:
A 6.6 magnitude earthquake devastated the ancient historic city of Bam in southeastern Iran, killing more than 30,000 people, injuring tens of thousands, and leaving many more homeless as buildings made of mud brick collapsed.
2004 Dec. 26,
Sumatra, Indonesia:
magnitude 9.0 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, caused a tremendously powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that hit 12 Asian countries, killing more than 225,000 and leaving millions homeless. It was the deadliest tsunami in history.
2005 Feb. 22,
Zarand, Iran:
magnitude 6.4 earthquake in central Iran shook more than 40 villages, killing at least 612 people, injuring over 1,400, and destroying villages with many mud-brick houses
2005 Mar. 28,
Sumatra, Indonesia:
magnitude 8.7 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, killed 1,313. Many buildings in the islands of Nias and Simeulue were destroyed and some officials feared another tsunami would occur. The same area was at the center of a huge tsunami in December that killed over 225,000 people. Officials at the U.S. Geological Survey said that yesterday's earthquake was an aftershock of December's 9.0 quake. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake was twice the power of the 8.7 magnitude quake.
 Oct. 2,
Pakistan:
magnitude 7.6 earthquake centered in the Pakistani-controlled part of the Kashmir region killed more than 80,000 and injured 65,000. About half of the region's capital city, Muzaffarabad, has been destroyed, other towns and villages were flattened, and the extreme mountainous terrain and bad weather made many areas unreachable for weeks after the quake. An estimated 4 million were left homeless with winter on the way and insufficient resources to provide shelter for the many homeless.

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