Yesterday marked one year since a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, killing 8, 000 people and injuring 21, 000 more. It caused $10 billion of damage and had a magnitude of 7.5. How does that compare to the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded? According to research by the Guardian and the US Geological Survey, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake is the most powerful ever recorded with a magnitude of about 9.5. More recent events including the 2004 earthquake off the west coast of northern Sumatra and the 2011 earthquake off Japan’s east coast were among the most powerful ever recorded.
Statistics and facts on natural disasters
Natural disasters of apocalyptic scale have become the norm in recent years. Every few months, it seems, another nation is victimized by an unstoppable natural force.
Scientists have pointed out that natural disaster occurrences have increased and intensified significantly in the last 30 years. Some claim this is an effect of global climate change. Recent disaster records do not refute this claim. Since 1980, eight of the world’s ten most deadly natural disasters have occurred post-2000, the deadliest of which was the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with 222, 570 fatalities. The occurrence of earthquakes has decreased since 2000, though that says nothing for the magnitude of those that do occur.
In recent years, China, the United States, and the Philippines were the three countries to experience the most natural disasters. China experienced a wide variety of disasters, with particularly high occurrences of deadly floods. The United States dealt with a high frequency of extreme weather, including dangerous storms and extreme heat and cold. Meanwhile the ill-fated island country of the Philippines, a mere fraction the size of the first two countries, suffered through 21 disasters in 2011, the third-most natural disasters worldwide. That year, the country experienced an average of 2, 385 fatalities per disaster.
This chart shows the strongest known earthquakes by magnitude (MMS).
You will find more statistics at Statista