The most destructive earthquakes

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Humanity has learned to build smart machines, conquers space. We are subject to microparticles and many secrets of nature are revealed. However, nature does not give up so easily - people have not learned to deal with the most powerful manifestations of her character.

Numerous earthquakes occur across the planet, and man has not fully understood their causes, has not learned to predict them accurately. In just one year, up to a million earthquakes occur on Earth, most of which are noted only by scientists and sensitive instruments.

In addition, most of this activity occurs on the ocean floor. The severity of earthquakes is assessed according to some special scales, the most famous of which is the Richter magnitude scale.

However, people are more interested not in the force of earthquakes, but in the consequences associated with it, including human casualties. Let's talk about the 10 most famous and destructive earthquakes in the history of mankind, noting the geographical and geological connection of some of them.

1. In 1556, the most destructive earthquake in the history of mankind took place, called the Great China Earthquake. It happened on January 23, 1556 in Shaanxi province. Historians believe that the natural disaster claimed the lives of about 830,000 people, more than any other similar event. Some areas of Shaanxi were completely depopulated, while in the rest more than half of the people died. Such a huge number of victims was explained by the fact that most of the inhabitants lived in loess caves, which, at the first shocks, immediately collapsed or were subsequently flooded by mudflows. According to modern estimates, this earthquake was assigned a category of 11 points. One of the eyewitnesses warned his descendants that when a disaster begins, one should not rush headlong into the street: "When a bird's nest falls from a tree, the eggs often remain unharmed." Such words are evidence that many people died while trying to leave their homes. The destructiveness of the earthquake is evidenced by the ancient steles of Xi'an, collected in the local Beilin Museum. Many of them are crumbling or cracked. During the cataclysm, the Wild Goose Pagoda located here survived, but its foundation sank 1.6 meters.

2. The second strongest earthquake also occurred in China. On July 28, 1976, the Tangshan earthquake took place in Hebei province. Its magnitude was 8.2 points, which makes the event the largest natural disaster of the century. The official death toll was 242,419. However, most likely the figure was underestimated by the PRC authorities by 3-4 times. This suspicion is based on the fact that according to Chinese documents the earthquake strength is indicated only at 7.8 points. Tangshan was almost immediately destroyed by powerful aftershocks, the epicenter of which was at a depth of 22 km under the city. Even Tianjin and Beijing, which are 140 kilometers from the epicenter, were destroyed. The consequences of the disaster were dire - 5.3 million homes were destroyed and damaged to such an extent that it was impossible to live in them. The number of casualties increased due to the subsequent series of aftershocks to 7.1 points. Today in the center of Tangshan there is a stele that reminds of a terrible catastrophe, and there is also an information center dedicated to those events. It is a kind of museum on this subject, the only one in China.

3. The third, and according to some estimates the second strongest, is the undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. It caused the tsunami, which caused most of the damage. Scientists estimate the magnitude of the earthquake from 9.1 to 9.3 points. The epicenter was under water, north of Shimolue Island, which is northwest of Indonesian Sumatra. Huge waves reached the shores of Thailand, southern India and Indonesia. Then the wave height reached 15 meters. Many territories were subjected to huge destruction and casualties, including in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which is 6900 km from the epicenter. The exact number of victims is unknown, but it is estimated from 225 to 300 thousand people. It will not be possible to calculate the true figure, since many bodies were simply carried away by water into the sea. Curiously, a few hours before the arrival of the tsunami, many animals reacted sensitively to the impending catastrophe - they left the coastal zones, moving to the hills.

4. The Aleppo earthquake, also called the Aleppo earthquake, occurred in 1138 and peaked on 11 October in the Aleppo province. One of the most powerful cataclysms in the history of mankind brought about 230 thousand deaths. The catastrophe took place in several stages, covering the territories of northern Syria, southwestern Turkey, present-day Iran and Azerbaijan. Almost a year later, on September 30, 1139, a powerful blow of nature was repeated in the area of ​​the modern city of Ganja in Azerbaijan. The first strikes took place on September 17, 1138, then the top of Mount Kapaz collapsed into the gorge of the Agsu River. Lake Goygol was formed on the site of the dam, now it is in Azerbaijan. The next blow, on October 11, directly affected the city of Aleppo - a large and populous city since ancient times. It was geologically located along a system of geographic faults that separate the Arabian and African tectonic plates. Their constant interaction was the cause of the earthquake. Ibn al-Kalanisi, the chronicler of Damascus, accurately indicated its date, indicating, moreover, the number of victims - more than 230 thousand people. Such scale of destruction and sacrifice shocked contemporaries, including knights-crusaders from Europe. Then in the north-western part of it, few cities could boast of a population of 10 thousand people. But on the territory of the former Byzantium and the Arab Emirates, crowded cities were not a gimmick (Constantinople, Alexandria, Aleppo, Antioch). The population of Aleppo was able to recover only by the beginning of the 19th century, when it again reached the mark of 200 thousand citizens. However, the city continued to be haunted by misfortunes - in 1822 there was another earthquake, in 1827 there was a plague, and after 5 years - cholera.

5. In 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. On January 12, 22 km from the capital, Port-au-Prince, powerful tremors began at a depth of 13 km. The main one had a magnitude of 7, after which many smaller ones were recorded, including 15 with a magnitude of more than 5. This earthquake was the result of movements of the earth's crust and the contact of the Caribbean and North American lithospheric plates. Such a strong earthquake has already happened here, in 1751, but the number of victims was not so great. In 2010, only according to official data, 222,570 people died, and about 311,000 were injured. Material damage to the country was estimated at $ 5.6 billion. The disaster destroyed thousands of residential buildings in Port-au-Prince, the city was left without hospitals. As a result, about 3 million people were left homeless. The National Palace, the buildings of the Ministries of Finance, Communications, Culture and Public Works were destroyed. The cathedral also disappeared. The biggest blow fell on the capital of the country with a population of 2.5 million. The rest of Haiti was slightly affected.

6. The earthquake in Damgan occurred in the territory of present-day Iran in 856. The impact force was 7.9 points. The result was a 320-kilometer crevice. Then the city of Damgan was the capital of Iran. On December 22, the disaster carried off about 200 thousand people, and the magnitude of the impact was 8 points. The earthquake became one of the links in a chain of those, called Alpid. As a result of this series, a mountain range of the same name arose, which is located in the center of one of the most dangerous seismic zones on the planet. Names she caused 17% of the world's largest earthquakes and 6% of the total are those on the planet. Damgan is located near Ardabil, which will be discussed later, this coincidence is no coincidence.

7. On December 16, 1920, a devastating earthquake, estimated at 7.8 on the Richter scale, took place in the Chinese province of Gansu. Its magnitude is estimated at 8.6. Experts assess the similarity of events with the Great China Earthquake. As then, a large number of casualties were caused by the characteristics of the soil that caused the loess landslides and landslides. Whole villages were under them, and the total number of victims ranged from 180 to 240 thousand people. At the same time, at least 20 thousand people died from the cold, from which they simply had nowhere to hide.

8. Another famous earthquake in Iran happened in 893 in Ardabil. This area is located in the northwest of the country, not far from the Caspian Sea. Few details of the tragedy have come down to us, but seismologists claim that at least 150 thousand people died then. The catastrophe has similar signs of its occurrence with the tragedy in Damgan, weaker tremors do not stop here to this day.

9. Japan is not for nothing considered a dangerous seismic zone - on September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 occurred here. The disaster got its name from the name of the province, which received the bulk of the damage. It is also customary to call the earthquake Tokyo or Yokohama, as it almost completely destroyed these cities. In scale, this phenomenon has become the most destructive in the entire history of the country. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 90 km southwest of Tokyo, on the seabed. Since September 1, 356 tremors have occurred within two days. Changes in the seabed caused a 12 meter tsunami that completely destroyed coastal villages. 65 kilometers from the epicenter was Yokohama, where more than 20% of all buildings were destroyed. Fires began, which were intensified by the wind. Spilled gasoline burned in the port, the flames there rose to a height of 60 meters. Almost all of the firefighting equipment died at the first aftershocks. On the railroad between Tokyo and Yokohama, the element twisted the rails, causing the train to derail. In Tokyo, slightly fewer buildings were destroyed, but there were also fires. People tried to get out into the open, but this could become a trap. So, in one of the squares of the capital, 40 thousand people suffocated when the nearest houses began to burn. Tokyo's water lines were destroyed and firefighters were unable to travel to their destination. The fire completed the work of the earthquake - about half of the buildings in the city were destroyed. As a result, the earthquake affected an area of ​​56 thousand square kilometers. In addition to Tokyo and Yokohama, the city of Yokosuko and 8 smaller ones were practically destroyed. Officially, 174 thousand people were killed, over a million Japanese were left homeless, and about 4 million people were injured to one degree or another. Material damage to the country was estimated in its two annual budgets, even the option of transferring the capital from Tokyo was considered.

10. The Ashgabat earthquake, which occurred on the night of October 5-6, 1948, in Turkmenistan, closes the top ten. At the epicenter, the push force was 9-10 points, and the magnitude was 7.3. The strikes began at a shallow depth of 10-12 km, the focus was linearly stretched along the foot of the Kopet-Dag and extended for 40 kilometers. The main damage was brought by two powerful shocks, which followed with an interval of 5-8 seconds. The strength of the first was about 8 points, while the second became even more powerful - 9 points. Closer to the morning, the third powerful push of 7-8 points took place. The tremors with decaying amplitude were repeated for 4 more days. The elements destroyed 90-98% of all buildings in Ashgabat. According to various estimates, from 50 to 66% of the city's population died, and this is up to 100 thousand people! Eyewitnesses say the figure is 150 thousand. In the Soviet Union, the official media reported on the tragedy extremely sparingly. It was only said that "the earthquake entailed human casualties", but the real scale was hushed up. The press did not publish figures on the number of deaths. A large number of them are associated with both the time of the earthquake and the peculiarities of architecture - there were many buildings with flat roofs in Ashgabat. To clear the rubble and save the survivors, to deal with the consequences of the disaster, 4 military divisions were even brought into the city.

Watch the video: Top 10 Worst Earthquakes in History!

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