CNN Editorial Research

Here is an overview of earthquakes around the world.

The United States Geological Survey describes an earthquake as “the earthquake caused by a sudden sliding over a fault.” Stresses in the outer layer of the earth bring the sides of the fault closer together. Stress builds up and the rocks suddenly slide, releasing energy in the form of waves that cross the earth’s crust and cause the jolts we feel during an earthquake.

Earthquakes are measured using seismographs, which monitor the seismic waves that pass through the Earth after an earthquake.

Scientists have used the Richter scale for many years to measure earthquakes, but they now largely follow the “Magnitude scale of the moment”, which, according to the USGS, is a more accurate measurement of height.

Major earthquakes since 2000

(selected calendar of earthquakes in the world with a death toll greater than 100)

June 4, 2000 – A magnitude 7.9 earthquake strikes south Sumatra, Indonesia, killing an estimated 103 people.

January 13, 2001 – A 7.7 magnitude earthquake strikes near San Miguel, El Salvador, killing an estimated 852 people.

January 26, 2001 – An estimated 20,000 people were killed by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake centered in Gujarat, India.

February 13, 2001 – Another earthquake hits El Salvador, magnitude 6.6. Three hundred and fifteen people were reportedly killed.

June 23, 2001 – It is estimated that 138 people were killed in Peru by a magnitude 8.4 earthquake.

March 3, 2002 – In the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, an estimated 166 people were killed by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

March 25, 2002 – Another earthquake in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, this one with a magnitude of 6.1, kills 1,000 people.

June 22, 2002 – Magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits west Iran, killing around 261 people.

February 24, 2003 – In southern Xianjiang, China, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake kills an estimated 263 people.

May 1, 2003 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits eastern Turkey, killing around 177 people.

May 21, 2003 – An estimated 2,266 people were killed by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in northern Algeria.

December 26, 2003 – A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hits the city of Bam in southeastern Iran. About 31,000 people died in the earthquake.

February 24, 2004 – About 631 people were killed in Morocco by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake.

December 26, 2004 – Magnitude 9.1 earthquake hits west coast of north Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake and tsunamis generated by the earthquake kill 227,898 people in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Bangladesh. The earthquake releases an amount of energy equal to a 100 gigaton bomb and lasts between 500 and 600 seconds.

February 22, 2005 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits central Iran, killing at least 612 people.

March 28, 2005 – A magnitude 8.7 earthquake occurs off the coast of Indonesia, on the same fault line that caused the December 26 earthquake that triggered a deadly tsunami. At least 1,300 people are killed.

October 8, 2005 – Magnitude 7.6 earthquake strikes Pakistan. At least 86,000 people are killed.

May 26, 2006 – A magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes in central Java, Indonesia, killing at least 5,749 people.

July 17, 2006 – A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Java, Indonesia, killing an estimated 730 people.

Aug 15, 2007 – An 8.0 magnitude earthquake hits Peru, about 160 km south of the capital Lima. About 514 people have died.

May 12, 2008 – Magnitude 7.9 earthquake strikes central China, killing more than 87,000 people.

October 28, 2008 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Pakistan, killing an estimated 166 people.

April 6, 2009 – A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits central Italy, killing 295 people.

September 29, 2009 – An 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the Samoan Islands kills 192 people.

September 30, 2009 – A 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes Sumatra, Indonesia, killing more than 1,000 people.

January 12, 2010 – A 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes 14 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. USAID puts the death toll at around 230,000, but other estimates stand at 316,000.

February 27, 2010 – An 8.8-magnitude earthquake strikes central Chile, killing an estimated 547 people.

April 13, 2010 – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hits the Chinese province of Qinghai. About 2,968 people have died.

October 25, 2010 – At least 503 people die from a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off Indonesia and a subsequent tsunami.

February 21, 2011 – Magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Christchurch, New Zealand. It is estimated that 181 people are killed.

March 11, 2011 – A magnitude 9.1 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, causing a massive tsunami. The epicenter of the earthquake was 231 miles from Tokyo. The total of confirmed deaths and missing stands at over 22,000.

September 18, 2011 – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hits Sikkim, India, killing an estimated 111 people.

October 23, 2011 – Magnitude 7.1 earthquake hits eastern Turkey. The death toll is 604 people.

February 6, 2012 – A 6.7 magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of Negros, Philippines, killing at least 113 people.

Aug 11, 2012 – Two earthquakes hit northern Iran. The first, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake strikes and 11 minutes later a second earthquake, with a magnitude 6.3 hits. At least 306 people are killed.

November 7, 2012 – A 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Guatemala kills an estimated 139 people.

April 20, 2013 – An earthquake strikes in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, killing at least 192 people. The USGS puts it at magnitude 6.6 and the China Earthquake Networks Center estimates it at magnitude 7.0.

September 24, 2013 – A lenght A 7.7 earthquake hits the Pakistani province of Balochistan. More than 300 people are said to have been killed.

Aug 3, 2014 – An earthquake hits China’s Yunnan province, killing at least 615 people and injuring more than 2,400. The USGS puts the quake at magnitude 6.1 and the China Earthquake Networks Center estimates it at magnitude 6.5.

April 25, 2015 – A 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Nepal and is centered within 80 kilometers of its capital Kathmandu. The death toll rises to more than 8,000, including 366 missing, according to the Nepal National Emergency Operations Center. A few weeks later, on May 12, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Nepal already shaken, killing at least 125 people in Nepal, India and Tibet.

October 26, 2015 – Magnitude 7.5 earthquake hits South Asia, killing at least 364 people and injuring over 2,000 others. The epicenter is in northeastern Afghanistan, but most of the deaths – at least 248 – are reported in Pakistan.

April 16, 2016 – A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hits the Ecuadorian coast, killing 663 people.

Aug 24, 2016 – A magnitude 6.2 earthquake hits central Italy, killing at least 290 people.

September 19, 2017 – Magnitude 7.1 earthquake hits Mexico City and surrounding states, kill at least 369 people.

November 12, 2017 – A 7.3 magnitude earthquake hits the border region between Iraq and Iran. More than 450 people are killed and thousands injured.

September 28, 2018 – A 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Over 2,100 people killed and 1,300 missing the resulting earthquake and tsunami.

Aug 14, 2021 – Magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits Haiti, leaving at least 2,189 dead and over 12,268 injured, according to the Haitian civil protection agency.

The biggest earthquakes from 1900 to the present day

(from USGS)

May 22, 1960 – Chile, 9.5

March 28, 1964Prince William Sound, Alaska, 9.2

December 26, 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia, 9.1

March 11, 2011 – Honshu, Japan, 9.1

November 4, 1952Kamchatka, Soviet Union, 9.0

February 27, 2010Chile, 8.8

January 31, 1906Ecuador, 8.8

February 4, 1965 Rat Islands, Alaska, 8.7

Aug 15, 1950 – Assam, Tibet, 8.6

April 11, 2012 – North Sumatra, Indonesia, 8.6

March 28, 2005 – North Sumatra, Indonesia, 8.6

March 9, 1957 – Andreanof Islands, Alaska, 8.6

April 1, 1946 – Unimak Island, Alaska, 8.6

February 1, 1938 – Banda Sea, Indonesia, 8.5

November 11, 1922 – Chile-Argentina border, 8.5

October 13, 1963 – Kuril Islands, 8.5

February 3, 1923 – Kamchatka, Soviet Union, 8.4

September 12, 2007 – South Sumatra, Indonesia, 8.4

June 23, 2001 – Arequipa, Peru, 8.4

March 2, 1933 – Sanriku, Japan, 8.4

The deadliest earthquakes from 1900 to the present day

January 12, 2010 – Haiti – 316,000 killed (magnitude 7.0). Other sources report 230,000.

July 27, 1976 – Tangshan, China – 255,000 killed (7.5)

December 26, 2004 – Sumatra, Indonesia – 227,898 killed in the earthquake and resulting tsunami (9.1)

December 16, 1920 – Haiyuan, China – 200,000 killed (7.8)

September 1, 1923 – Kanto, Japan – 143,000 killed (7.9)

October 5, 1948 – Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – 110,000 killed (7.3)

May 12, 2008 – East Sichuan, China – 87,587 killed (7.9)

October 8, 2005 – Pakistan – 86,000 (7.6)

December 28, 1908 – Messina, Italy – 70,000 (7.2)

May 31, 1970 – Chimbote, Peru – 66,000 killed (7.9)

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