Tuesday 27 March 2012

Second biggest earthquake in history

This day 48 years ago saw the second biggest earthquake ever recorded.   For four minutes at about half past five in the evening of Good Friday, March 27, 1964, it rocked the Gulf of Alaska with a magnitude of 9.2.

Fissures appeared in the ground, buildings collapsed, and tsunamis were generated, but fortunately because the area was sparsely populated, only about 130 people died.

It was stronger than the underwater earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra that generated the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, resulting in perhaps 230,000 deaths.   This was the third most powerful ever recorded.

The strongest of all was the Chilean quake of 1960, which cost perhaps 4,500 lives and made 2 million people homeless.    Once again because of the relative sparseness of population in the area, it was much less devastating than less powerful earthquakes such as the one that struck Haiti in 2010 and probably killed more than 200,000.

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