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Many people go their whole lives without experiencing an earthquake. Others experience them on the regular. Massive earthquakes with high death tolls are fortunately not common. Here are the top seven deadliest earthquakes in history.
1556 Shaanxi earthquake
The earthquake that took place in Shaanxi, China, in the 16th century, remains the most deadly earthquake in history. Records show that it killed over 800,000 people, and in some areas, nearly 60 percent of the population was wiped out. Landslides contributed to the high death toll. Experts estimate that it would have been recorded close to an 8 on the moment magnitude scale.
1920 Haiyuan earthquake
The second deadliest earthquake also took place in China. Around 270,000 people lost their lives, and again, the high death toll could be attributed to, in part, massive landslides. As a result of the earthquake, some rivers became dammed, and others changed their courses.
1976 Tangshan earthquake
A little more recently, another major Chinese earthquake claimed the third-deadliest spot on our list. Numbers of reported dead vary, but it has been pegged at around 250,000 lives lost. This earthquake was caused by the rupture of the 25-mile-long Tangshan Fault, which runs along the city that bears the same name.
526 Antioch earthquake
A long-ago earthquake struck in the Byzantine Empire, in an area that is now Syria and Turkey. It also came at a cost of a quarter million lives. Unfortunately, the buildings that were left standing were soon destroyed by a fire that broke out in the days after the quake.
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami
This catastrophe took place just a decade ago, and deaths from the tragedy are estimated at around 230,000 people from 14 different countries. This earthquake began under the sea and triggered massive tsunamis in several directions, which greatly increased the loss of life.
1138 Aleppo earthquake
In northern Syria lies a city named Aleppo, which sustained most of the casualties of a massive 12th-century earthquake. Around 230,000 people were killed as homes and buildings collapsed — the city’s citadel among them, which took with it around 600 people. .
2010 Haiti earthquake
Another recent earthquake was also unfortunately one of the deadliest. In 2010, anywhere from 100,000 to 160,000 people died (although much higher numbers were reported, it is suspected that those numbers were inflated artificially by the government). Rescue and recovery efforts were hampered by damaged infrastructure, which included roads, hospitals, and other vital services.