Deadliest Earthquakes in History
Earthquake damage.
Credit: USGS

Tsunamis and fires have contributed to some of the largest death tolls in earthquakes. Here are the most notable known earthquake events, based on the number of deaths. Both deaths and magnitudes, when shown, are estimates.

 

 

Date

Location

Deaths

Magnitude

Comments

January 23, 1556

China, Shansi

830,000

~8

Damage up to 270 miles away

July 27, 1976

China, Tangshan

255,000 (official)
655,000 (estimated)

7.5

Estimated death toll as high as 655,000.

Dec. 26, 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia
227,898
9.1
Deaths from earthquake and tsunami

August 9, 1138

Syria, Aleppo

230,000

n/a

 

Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti
222,570
7.0
1.3 million displaced.

May 22, 1927

China, near Xining

200,000

7.9

Large fractures.

December 22, 856+

Iran, Damghan

200,000

n/a

 

December 16, 1920

China, Gansu

200,000

8.6

Major fractures, landslides.

March 23, 893

Iran, Ardabil

150,000

 

 

September 1, 1923

Japan, Kanto
(Kwanto)

143,000

7.9

Great Tokyo fire.

October 5, 1948

USSR
(Turkmenistan, Ashgabat)

110,000

7.3

 

December 28, 1908

Italy, Messina

70,000 to 100,000
(estimated)

7.2

Deaths from earthquake and tsunami.

September, 1290

China, Chihli

100,000

n/a

 

May 12, 2008 Sichuan, China
87,586
7.9
More than 45.5 million affected
Oct. 8, 2005 Pakistan
85,000
7.6
More than 69,000 injured

November, 1667

Caucasia, Shemakha

80,000

 

 

November 18, 1727

Iran, Tabriz

77,000

n/a

 

November 1, 1755

Portugal, Lisbon

70,000

8.7

Great tsunami.

December 25, 1932

China, Gansu

70,000

7.6

 

May 31, 1970

Peru

66,000

7.9

$530,000,000 damage, great rock slide, floods.

1268

Asia Minor, Silicia

60,000

n/a

 

January 11, 1693

Italy, Sicily

60,000

 

 

May 30, 1935

Pakistan, Quetta

30,000 to 60,000

7.5

Quetta almost completely destroyed.

February 4, 1783

Italy, Calabria

50,000

 

 

June 20, 1990

Iran

50,000

7.7

Landslides.

SOURCE: USGS