Two major earthquakes sent shock waves through the news networks when they killed dozens of people in Japan and Ecuador. April 16’s magnitude-7.3 quake struck close to the city of Kumamoto, Japan. At least 44 people were killed and more than 1,000 people were injured. At least 100,000 people are still living in emergency accommodation.

The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 17 has soared to 272. An estimated 2,527 people have been injured. The hardest-hit area was the coastal Manabi Province, where about 200 people died.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga on April 17, according to the US Geological Survey. The tremors were detected just hours after the Ecuador quake. That’s three in April alone. Here are some of the major seismic episodes that took place over the past one and half decades.

Off west coast of northern Sumatra

(Earthquake and tsunami)

Date: December 26, 2004
Magnitude: 9.3

Death toll – 100,100 to 225,000
Injured – 125,000
Missing – 45,752
Homeless – 1.74 million
Damage estimate – $15 billion

This was the second highest seismic activity recorded with the longest duration of tremors. The after-effects even reached the Maldives and Thailand, with more than 5 tsunamis hitting the coastlines of the Indian Sea. This earthquake hit the sea bed of the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 with a magnitude of 9.1 to 9.3 or over 32-Gigatons, and caused the Boxing Day Tsunami. The deadliest tsunami in history was felt in 14 countries across Asia and east Africa, triggered by a ‘megathrust’ as the Indian tectonic plate was forced beneath the Burmese plate. It had a death toll of 100,100 to 225,000 with over $7 billion worth of rescue and damage costs during the first 8.3 to 10 minutes alone. With many of the victims’ bodies missing, the eventual death toll took a month to establish. Some the world’s poorest
communities lost more than 60 percent of their fishing and industrial infrastructure.

Off Bio-Bio, Chile

Date: February 27, 2010
Magnitude: 8.8

Death toll – 521
Injured – 12,000
Homeless – 800,000
Damage estimate – $30 billion by end of 2010

The region around Concepción has been recorded as a centre for seismic shocks since the 16th century, but few have been as devastating as this early morning earthquake  that generated a Pacific-wide tsunami

Sichuan, China

Date: May 8, 2008
Magnitude: 8.0

Death toll – 69,197 (68,636 in Sichuan Province)
Injured – 374,176
Homeless – 4.8 to 15 million
Damage estimate – $146.5 billion Yuan

The Great Sichuan Earthquake occurred on May 8, 2008 with a magnitude that measured 8.0 and 7.9. It was so great that it was felt as far away as Beijing and Shanghai. This was considered as the deadliest earthquake to hit China after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Date: January 12, 2010
Magnitude: 7.0

Death toll – 316,000
Injured – 300,000
Homeless – 1,000,000
Damage estimate – between $7.8 billion to $8.5 billion

The Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter near Leogane, 25 km west of its capital, Port-au-Prince. It struck on January 12, 2010 where at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater could still be felt even 12 days later. It was estimated that 250,000 houses and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely destroyed.

Tohoku, Japan

Date: March 11, 2011
Magnitude: 9.03

Death toll – 15,878
Injured – 6,126
Missing – 2,173
Homeless – 400,000
Damage estimate – US$235 billion

On March 11, 2011, the east coast of Tohoku in Japan was struck by a 9.03 magnitude earthquake, which was the strongest to ever hit Japan.

Considered one of the top five largest earthquakes in the world. It also caused the collapsed of 129,225 buildings, while the tsunami brought about by the quake also caused severe structural damages, fires in many areas, and damages in roads and railways. This was the most difficult crisis Japan had ever faced after World War II as it did not only inflict damages to lives and properties, but also caused significant damages to four major nuclear power stations.

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