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Deadliest Earthquakes in History

Earthquake damage.
Earthquake damage.
(Image: © 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.

DateLocationDeathsMagnitudeComments
January 23, 1556China, Shansi830,000~8Damage up to 270 miles away
July 27, 1976China, Tangshan255,000 (official) 655,000 (estimated)7.5Estimated death toll as high as 655,000.
Dec. 26, 2004Sumatra, Indonesia227,8989.1Deaths from earthquake and tsunami
August 9, 1138Syria, Aleppo230,000n/a
Jan. 12, 2010Haiti222,5707.01.3 million displaced.
May 22, 1927China, near Xining200,0007.9Large fractures.
December 22, 856+Iran, Damghan200,000n/a
December 16, 1920China, Gansu200,0008.6Major fractures, landslides.
March 23, 893Iran, Ardabil150,000
September 1, 1923Japan, Kanto (Kwanto)143,0007.9Great Tokyo fire.
October 5, 1948USSR (Turkmenistan, Ashgabat)110,0007.3
December 28, 1908Italy, Messina70,000 to 100,000 (estimated)7.2Deaths from earthquake and tsunami.
September, 1290China, Chihli100,000n/a
May 12, 2008Sichuan, China87,5867.9More than 45.5 million affected
Oct. 8, 2005Pakistan85,0007.6More than 69,000 injured
November, 1667Caucasia, Shemakha80,000
November 18, 1727Iran, Tabriz77,000n/a
November 1, 1755Portugal, Lisbon70,0008.7Great tsunami.
December 25, 1932China, Gansu70,0007.6
May 31, 1970Peru66,0007.9$530,000,000 damage, great rock slide, floods.
1268Asia Minor, Silicia60,000n/a
January 11, 1693Italy, Sicily60,000
May 30, 1935Pakistan, Quetta30,000 to 60,0007.5Quetta almost completely destroyed.
February 4, 1783Italy, Calabria50,000
June 20, 1990Iran50,0007.7Landslides.

SOURCE: USGS