The most powerful earthquake and the deadliest earthquake ever

Atwater.iddThe 1556 Shaanxi earthquake (Chinese: 华县大地震; pinyin: Huà xiàn dà dìzhèn) or Jiajing earthquake (Chinese: 嘉靖大地震; pinyin: jiājìng dà dìzhèn) is the deadliest earthquake recorded in history, killing approximately 830,000 people (there aren’t very accurate data and so the number has been disputed). It occurred on the morning of 23 January 1556 in Shaanxi, China. More than 97 counties in the provinces were affected. A 840-kilometres wide area was destroyed and in some counties, 60% of the population was killed. Most of the population in the area at the time lived in Yaodongs, artificial caves in Loess cliffs, many of which collapsed during the catastrophic occurrence causing a huge number of deaths.
The Shaanxi earthquake’s epicenter was in the Wei River Valley in the Shaanxi Province, near the cities of Huaxian, Weinan and Huayin. In Huaxian, no building remained standind and more than half the residents of the city died. 20-metre (66 ft) deep crevices opened in the earth, landslides caused also many deaths and the earthquake affected area located as far as 500 kilometres (310mi) away from the epicenter.
The earthquake’s magnitude had been of approximately 8 on the moment magnitude scale and the intensity XI on the Mercalli scale. While it was the most deadly earthquake and the third deadliest natural disaster in history, there have been earthquakes with considerably higher magnitudes. Nowadays the cost of material loses caused by Shaanxi earthquake is almost impossible to estimate.
The earthquake with de highest magnitude ever recorded was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean Earthquake of 22 May 1960 with 9.5 degrees on the moment magnitude scale. It occurred in the afternoon (19:11 GMT, 14:11 local time) and produced tsunamis affecting southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, south east Australia and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The waves were as high as 10.7 metres (35 ft). The epicenter was near Cañete (see map) some 700 km (435 miles) south of Santiago although Valdivia, Chile was the most affected city. Estimations of the total number of fatalities from the earthquake and tsunamis have been published and the number of death was believed to be around 5700. Different sources have estimated the monetary cost ranged from 400 million to 800 million US dollars (or 2.8 to 5.5 billion in 2007 dollars, adjusted for inflation).


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