A tsunami is no pleasant name or happening. It has killed many people and damaged many places in history. The waves that swallow are most feared and can potentially change the course of history. The worst tsunami ever killed thousands and damaged wealth that was worth several billion.
A tsunami is one of the most destructive natural disasters, and its impact can be devastating. Although the large waves are seen in every ocean on earth, 80 percent of the worst tsunamis occur in the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”
Worst tsunami ever
There have been many tsunamis that destroyed whatever stood in their path. Here is a list of the top 10 of the most destructive tsunamis in history.
1. Sumatra, Indonesia - 26th December 2004
What is the biggest tsunami ever? Sumatra, Indonesia tsunami is the biggest in the world's history. It was a 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the coast of Sumatra with a 30km depth occurrence. The fault zone causing it was estimated to be around 1300km long. It registered a loss of close to $10 billion and killed over 230,000 people.
In terms of height, it was nearly 50 meters high, reaching 5 km inland near Meubolah, Sumatra. How long did the 2004 tsunami last? It lasted for seven hours. The most affected areas were coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, and Thailand, and as far away as East Africa.
2. Lituya bay mega tsunami
Lituya bay mega tsunami was the biggest tsunami in the world. Its magnitude was between 7.8 and 8.3 and maximum Mercalli intensity of XI. The earthquake caused the displacement of 90 million tonnes of water into the narrow inlet of Lituya Bay in Alaska.
This resulted in a megatsunami which was caused majorly due to the earthquake on Fairweather Fault. Its impact was experienced at more than 80 km resulting in a maximum elevation of 1720 feet at Gilbert's inlet entrance.
3. The 1964 Alaska Good Friday earthquake - 27 March 1964
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This was the biggest tsunami ever recorded in North America, with a magnitude of 9.2. It is also referred to as the Great Alaskan earthquake and Good Friday earthquake. Some of the affected areas were Alaska's Prince William Sound and Seattle's Space Needle. This earthquake broke all water, gas pipelines, and continued for four long minutes.
When the tremors ended, water swelling resulted in a series of tsunamis that crushed the coastal villages erasing ⅓rd of the entire population. The earthquake and ensuing wave caused about $2.3 billion of damage. In addition, it killed a total of 128 people, including 16 from California and four children from Oregon.
4. North-Pacific Coast, Japan - 11th March 2011
The North-pacific Coast tsunami hit Japan at more than 800km per hour. Its waves were 10 metres high with a 9.0 magnitude. The earthquake resulted in a wave that reached depths of about 24.4km.
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It lasted around six minutes, sweeping away the east coast and killing over 18,000 people. In addition, more than 452,000 individuals were relocated to different shelters. Japan took over five years to recover the $235 billion damages caused. It spent over $274 billion on reconstruction.
5. Lisbon, Portugal - 1st November 1755
Portugal and Morocco had one of the biggest tsunamis. It was caused by the faulting of the seafloor along the tectonic plate boundaries of the mid-Atlantic. The earthquake's magnitude was 8.5, causing a series of three huge waves. It reached up to 30 meters high in some places. The most affected towns were the coast of Portugal and the south of Spain.
The wave also affected the waves even in Carlisle Bay in Barbados, where the people reported as high as 1.5 metres waves. The tsunami killed 60,000 people in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. A week later, more than 90% of all the buildings in Lisbon had been destroyed either by the earthquake, flooding or burnt by fire.
6. Krakatau, Indonesia - 27th August 1883
Krakatau experienced one of the tallest tsunamis after an explosion of the Krakatau caldera volcano. These generated huge waves as high as 37 meters, most propagated by violent eruptions.
It washed away 165 coastal villages on Java and Sumatra and demolished the town of Anjer and Merak. The sea receded at Bombay shore and killed one person in Sri Lanka. A total of 40,000 people died in this event, with 2000 deaths due to volcanic eruptions.
7. Indian Ocean - 26th December 2004
The Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the largest tsunamis, also referred to as the Boxing Day Tsunami. It hit the Indian Ocean after rupturing along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Ocean, causing a terrific earthquake. After heading inland, some of the waves reached as high as 30 metres.
It is considered one of the deadliest tsunamis due to the harm caused, and the number is people who died. The wave claimed the lives of close to 230,000 people in the 14 countries affected. It even generated tremors in Alaska.
The wave lasted seven hours, and the effect was felt in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Reunion Island (French), Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Oman, South Africa and Australia.
8. Southern Chile - 22nd May 1960
Southern Chile experienced the worst tsunami ever. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.5, sending 80 feet waves into different places. For instance, just 15 minutes after the earthquake, the waves pounded into the Chile shores and stretched towards Hilo in Hawaii in 15 hours and towards Japan in 22 hours.
The tsunami-affected areas were the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Aleutian Islands. A total of $400 to $800 million was damaged during the catastrophic event. In addition, more than 6,000 individuals perished.
9. Nankaido, Japan - 28 October 1707
The Nankaido, Japan earthquake had a magnitude of 8.4, resulting in waves about 25 meters high. They pounded into different places such as the Pacific coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Hanshin. In addition, Osaka was also damaged by the quake.
Nearly 30,000 buildings were damaged in the affected regions, and about 30,000 people were killed. Roughly a dozen large waves were counted between 3 pm and 4 pm, some of them extending several kilometres inland at Kochi.
10. Arica Tsunami - 16th August 1868
An 8.5-magnitude earthquake hit the Peru-Chile Trench off the southern coast of Peru, turning the city of Arica into rubble. Following the earthquake, a massive trans-Pacific wave formed and crashed into Arica.
The wave's 90-foot waves hit two American ships, killing all but two crewmembers. The wave also wiped out the port of Arica by knocking down buildings and homes and causing an estimated 25,000 casualties. The wave caused about $300 million in damage and took the lives of 70,000 in South America.
When was the last tsunami in the world? The last wave occurred on 28th September 2018. It had a magnitude of 7.5. The hurricane triggered catastrophic liquefaction, landslides, and a near-field wave that resulted in damage, impact, economic loss, and loss of life.
A tsunami is a series of waves caused by the displacement of large volumes of water in an ocean, sea or large lake. They caused include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or underwater explosions. The worst tsunami ever caused massive destruction.
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