The Worst Tsunamis in History Historical Events
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The Worst Tsunamis in History

List of the worst tsunamis in history, with pictures where possible. From the most recent, current tsunamis to those of the past, this list has them all. What was the worst tsunami ever? With death tolls reaching tragic proportions, these are not only the worst tsunamis environmentally, they're also the deadliest.

World disasters such as these famous natural catastrophes can affect the world on a global scale and test the preparedness and relief our governments can provide. What was the worst tsunamis in history? Such great disasters, despite the destruction and natural hazards that come along with them, can also bring forth examples of how big our hearts are as we as individuals provide aid alongside our countries. This list gives us the most major examples. Fortunately, events such as these are not always so disastrous, and can provide us with the opportunity to make plans for when these epic events occur. One thing's for sure, they'll make you think twice about the ocean next time you head out to catch a big wave.

If you're in shock over the size of some of the largest tsunamis ever recorded, try checking out the worst earthquakes, biggest tornadoes, and most tragic volcanic eruptions in history. They'll really enlighten you on the power of mother nature.

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  1. 14

    2010 Haiti Earthquake

    Haiti suffered one of the largest earthquakes in more than 200 years in 2010. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake was centered about 10 miles from Port-au-Prince and set off a swarm of tsunamis that killed three people and destroyed several homes. The waves were averaged to be about 10 feet high.

  2. 13

    2010 Sumatra Earthquake/Tsunami

    The October 2010 Sumatra earthquake occurred on the same fault as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The second time wasn't as disastrous but there was still substantial damage. This time around the earthquake was 7.7 on the Richter scale and developed a tsunami that struck the Mentawai Islands. The tsunami, which had a wave of 9 feet, destroyed many of the villages on the island. It displaced more than 20,000 people and reportedly killed 435.

  3. 12

    2010 Chile Earthquake/Tsunami

    A 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010 with intense shaking that lasted for about three minutes. It triggered a tsunami that destroyed several coastal towns in south-central Chile. The tsunami raced through the Pacific Ocean that 53 countries had to post warning, though there was little damage as it moved past Hawaii, Australia and Japan. The death toll was 521 victims.

  4. 11

    2011 Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami

    The 9.0-magnitude megathrust earthquake that hit the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, 2011 was the largest earthquake to have ever hit the country. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan even called it "the toughest and most difficult crisis for Japan" since the end of World War II. The tsunami that traveled along the Pacific coast of Japan's northern islands was measured to be at least 9.8 feet high. Entire towns and cities were swept away and about 5,692 are said to be dead, with 9,522 missing and 2,409 injured.

  5. 10

    1771 Great Yaeyama Tsunami

    On April 24, 1771, the Yaeyama Great Earthquake caused the formation of the 1771 Great Yaeyama Tsunami. The tsunami hit both the Ishigaki and Miyakojima Island of Japan and killed a total of 12,000 people. Agriculture was severely damaged and the population decreased about one-third of what it was. The tsunami at Ishigaki reportedly reached a height of 262 feet.

  6. 9

    1792 Mount Unzen

    The 1792 eruption of Mount Unzen in western Kyushu, Japan is the most deadliest volcanic eruption ever in Japan. It caused a megatsunami that reached up to 330 feet and killed 15,030 people.

  7. 8

    1896 Meiji-Sanriku Earthquake

    The 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake hit Japan on a day when the country was celebrating both the return of soldiers from the Sinto Japanese War and a Shinto holiday. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that took place was small but the tsunami that struck the coast of Sanriku 35 minutes later was much greater. Waves as high as 125 feet were measured and nearly 9,000 homes were destroyed. 22,070 were reported dead and an unusually high count of victims with fractured skulls and broken or missing limbs. Hawaii also suffered some destruction from the tsunami as waves of 30 feet were measured there.

  8. 7

    1868 Arica Earthquake/Tsunami

    The estimated 8.5 to 9.0 magnitude earthquake near Arica (then part of Peru, now part of Chile) in 1868 nearly destroyed all of Arica and its surrounding cities. The tsunami it produced almost completely destroyed the port city of Pisco. It also caused some damage in Hawaii, New Zealand and Japan. About 25,674 casualties were reported.

  9. 6

    1826 Japanese Earthquake

    27000 Dead

  10. 5

    1707 Hoei Earthquake

    The 1707 Hoei earthquake is the only earthquake to have ruptured all segments of the Nankai megathrust simultaneously and is the second largest earthquake to have ever hit Japan besides the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. The estimated magnitude of the quake was 8.6. The consequent tsunami ran along the southwestern coast of Kochi and ran up to an average of 25 feet to 32 feet in some places. The total dead were estimated to be 30,000.

  11. 4

    1883 Eruption of Krakatoa

    It's not only earthquakes that can caused monstrous tsunamis; volcanic eruptions do the same as well. On August 27, 1883, four huge eruptions from the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia took place, resulting in four different tsunamis over 100 feet tall. There were absolutely no survivors at the island of Sebesi, the nearest island to the volcano and bodies were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The total death total was around 36,000.

  12. 3

    1755 Lisbon Earthquake/Tsunami/Fire

    Geologists today estimate that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, was close to a magnitude of 9 on the moment magnitude scale. With an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km of Cape St. Vincent in southern Portugal, the megathrust earthquake was one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. It was followed by fires and a tsunami that destroyed most of Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal. The tsunami occurred approximately 40 minutes after the earthquake and engulfed the harbour, downtown and other nearby cities. Tsunamis as tall as 66 feet also swept the coast of North Africa and struck islands across the Atlantic like Martinique and Barbados. A ten-foot tsunami also hit Cornwall on the southern English coast and Galway on the west coast of Ireland. A total of 100,000 were reported dead from the disaster.

  13. 2

    1908 Messina Earthquake/Tsunami

    An earthquake of 7.1 hit Messina, a city in the island of Sicily, on December 28, 1908. The earthquake shook for 30 to 40 seconds and moments after, a tsunami of 40 feet high formed and struck the nearby coasts. At the time, the buildings there were not made earthquake resistent and 93% of the structures in Messina were destroyed. Entire families were buried under heavy roofing and debris and were still being discovered and pulled out days later. Other families, were not so lucky and the natural catastrophe numbered about 123,000 dead.

  14. 1

    2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

    On December 26, 2004, an earthquake released close to 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs mount of energy from beneath the Earth's surface. This unleashed a series of killer waves across the Indian Ocean that traveled as fast as a jet airliner. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake was the largest magnitude earthquake in 40 years and the tsunami it generated traveled as much as 3,000 miles to Africa. About 229,866 were found dead and one-third of the death toll were young children who were not strong enough to fight against the force of the waves.

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