What have been the most devastating tsunamis?
Tsunami waves can move as fast as an airplane on the high seas. And be tremendously powerful and destructive ; They are capable of crushing everything in their path. These are the most prominent in our recent history:
Indian Ocean, 2004
The tsunami that affected Indonesia (mainly in Aceh), Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Maldives, Sumatra, Andaman and southeastern China took place on December 26, 2004 and resulted in more than 227,000 deaths. The underwater earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1-9.3 triggered a huge tsunami that swept through the Indian Ocean. Estimates determined that the material losses of the immense destruction were around 10 billion euros. There was also long-term environmental damage, displacing hundreds of thousands of people as the tsunami destroyed villages, resorts, farmland and fishing grounds. The tsunami was caused by an undersea earthquake when the India plate was subducted by the Burma plate and triggered a series of destructive tsunamis along the Indian coastal countries. This is probably the worst tsunami we have seen in the recent past.
Popularly known as the “Great East Japan Earthquake,” March 11, 2011 shocked the Japanese and, terrifyingly, the fourth most powerful earthquake on record since modern records began in the 20th century. Waves of 10 meters high were recorded in a devastating tsunami that lasted six minutes , leaving the trail and destruction of one of the worst tsunamis recorded in the history of the Japanese country. Many places were literally leveled with almost 20,000 dead and more than 2,500 people missing. This event also caused a nuclear disaster at the Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake caused three of its reactors to melt down and release a radioactive discharge that affected thousands of residents and prompted more evacuations. It is the costliest natural disaster in history because it led to the loss of more than 20 billion dollars in losses (some put the amount at 35 billion dollars).
Two million people were left homeless and more than 1,600 died in the 1960 Valdivia mega-earthquake, also known as the great Chile earthquake. It happened on Sunday May 22, 1960 and lasted approximately 14 minutes. It was a magnitude 9.5 earthquake that came with a tsunami across the Pacific with waves up to 25 meters high. The tsunami caused millions of dollars worth of damage in Hawaii and killed Japanese and Filipinos. It left no corner of the Pacific Ocean untouched, leaving devastation in its wake and making it one of the five worst tsunamis in modern history.
On December 28, 1908, Sicily and Calabria, in the south of Italy, were surprised by an earthquake caused by an underwater landslide that caused a tsunami of magnitude 7.1 (and a maximum intensity of Mercalli of XI -extreme-) which killed an estimated 123,000 people in Messina, Italy, on December 28, 1908. The event, known as the Messina and Reggio earthquake of 1908, had its epicenter in the Strait of Messina, which separates Reggio Calabria from the mainland of Italy’s busy port city of Messina in Sicily. The tsunami wiped out everything. 91% of the structures suffered irreparable damage. It was the most destructive earthquake to hit Europe. There were between 75,000 and 200,000 victims.
Moro Gulf, Philippines, 1976
On August 16, 1976, an 8-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami that devastated the shores of the Moro Gulf, located in the Celebes Sea in the Mindanao Islands of the Philippines, leaving at least 90,000 homeless, 5,000 killed and 9,500 wounded. It was one of the deadliest earthquakes in the world. The mainshock was followed by a large aftershock 12 hours later, which caused additional damage.
Referencia: NGDC/WDS Global Historical Tsunami Database