Biggest Earthquake in History

There are some terrible days you cannot forget ever, especially if they have touched your life in some way. May 21, 1960 was one such day, the day when the world saw the biggest, the most terrible earthquake ever. The name given was the ‘1960 Valdivia Earthquake’ and took place in Chile, which probably still faces some of its consequences to date. As far as the facts about this earthquake are concerned, know that they are pretty terrible and heartbreaking.

The first part of this rather devastating earthquake was of a terribly high 7.6 on the Richter scale, leaving some irreversible changes to the place called Chile and in the lives of its people. This wave killed no less than 5000 people and left as many as 2 million people homeless. The world believed that was it. Nothing can be more terrible than what just happened. Just when the people of Chile started mourning over what had happened, the world saw an even more powerful wave of this earthquake, registered at nothing less than 9.5 magnitude – the highest ever recorded.

Aftermath of the Valdivia Earthquake

Aftermath of the Valdivia Earthquake (Source: Wikipedia)

This second wave of this earthquake took place in southern Chile, when the clock said 3:11 p.m. It made the edge of the coast of Pacific Ocean its target. This particular second wave of the earthquake caused some really terrible things, such as the Nazca oceanic plate plunging 50 feet, mountains witnessing huge landslides, as well as a scary series of tsunamis. Then, exactly at 4:20 p.m. a massive 26-foot wave hit the shore, resulting in tons of buildings and structures losing their existence. That’s finally it, a lot of people thought. But no, the worse was still yet to come, as just a few minutes later, another 35-foot wave rolled in, but a lot slower this time. This one was actually one of the more dreadful waves, as it alone ended the lives of about 1000 people, which included many who thought they had successfully made their way to a safe high ground.

The lives lost could have been tremendously higher, had not the people moved outside of their buildings and other such earthquake prone buildings 30 minutes before the earthquake started showing its signs. Furthermore, the people of the area also knew that a tsunami might be on the cards due to being near to the coast, and hence left the area immediately. This restricted the death toll to a far lesser number than what it could have been.

The tsunami wave didn’t stop after taking so many lives. It travelled further, hundreds of miles toward Hawaii, where it took another few hundred lives in Japan and the Philippines. In fact, it took a week for such waves caused by the earthquake to stabilize a bit, until which they kept bouncing back and forth across the Pacific Ocean. However, it actually took a full 30 days for the aftershocks to stop showing up.

The damage was caused, the effects of which will probably be remembered for decades to come, if not centuries.

Related: 10 Facts About Earthquakes