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The strongest earthquake in the world, the largest and most destructive in history

What is an earthquake

In layman's terms, these are fluctuations of the Earth's surface that are mainly caused by natural forces of nature. We will not consider artificial stimuli such as large explosions and other technical processes.

Earthquakes have a leading position in terms of their destructiveness. In the history of mankind there are many examples of the destructive power of nature. Billions of victims around the world and the consequences that completely disrupted the entire infrastructure of cities and even entire countries. Earthquakes in Russia usually occur in mountainous areas, at the junction of tectonic plates. The leaders in the rating of victims of such disasters, of course, are Kamchatka, Altai, Caucasus and Eastern Siberia. Of course, this is not the entire list of settlements subject to underground

 earthquakes on the territory of Russia

The surface of the Earth, which is closest to the center of the natural phenomenon, is assumed to be the epicenter of the earthquake.

Types of earthquakes

To date, experts distinguish three types of earthquakes:

  1. Volcanic - volcanic eruptions.
  2. Artificial earthquakes - strong explosions that cause shifts of underground plates.
  3. Technogenic - shocks that are caused by human activities.

How an earthquake is measured

Underground shocks are measured by a special device, a seismograph, which not only measures the power of underground shocks with utmost accuracy, but also predicts how strong the shifts of tectonic plates will be.

There is a universally accepted world scale, which consists of 12 points:

- 1 point. Almost imperceptible earthquake, because the shaking of the ground is a minimum that cannot be felt.

- 2 points. rather weak phenomenon, which can be felt only when you are in a calm environment. only some people are able to feel it.

- 3. A weak earthquake, manifested by vibrations that are more noticeable to others.

- Score 4. A moderate phenomenon noticeable to all people.

- 5. Quite a strong earthquake, provoking the movement of objects indoors.

- 6 points (strong). Rather strong shocks can cause minor damage to buildings.

major earthquakes in russia

- 7. A very strong earthquake, bringing more destruction to buildings.

- 8. A destructive phenomenon that can destroy even the most powerful structures.

- A devastating earthquake. There are massive rockslides in the mountains and people in the cities can't stand on their feet.

- 10. devastating earthquakes, can lead to the complete destruction of a settlement, turning everything in its path into ruins, including roads and all kinds of communications.

- 11 points. catastrophe.

- 12 points. A severe catastrophe, in which it is impossible to survive. The relief is completely changed, the strongest splits are observed, huge hollows, craters, and much more appear.

Causes of earthquakes

Major earthquakes in Russia and elsewhere in the world are caused by the collision of lithospheric plates. For example, in the Caucasus there is the Arabian plate, which is gradually moving north toward the Eurasian plate, which, in turn, periodically collides with the Pacific plate, located in Kamchatka. Speaking of Kamchatka Krai, earthquakes in this region are also influenced by volcanic activity, during which fairly strong tremors are observed.

The strength of earthquakes: has there ever been a 12 point earthquake?

At least 3 earthquakes of magnitude 12 have occurred since the Kamori scale was taken into consideration, and it has allowed the estimation of natural disasters that have not yet been hidden in the dust of the ages.

  1. Tragedy in Chile, 1960.
  2. Destruction in Mongolia, 1957.
  3. The tremors in the Himalayas, 1950.

In first place in the ranking, which compiles the strongest earthquakes in the world, the cataclysm of 1960, known as the "Great Chilean Earthquake. The magnitude of the destruction is estimated at the maximum known 12 points, with a magnitude of earth shaking over 9.5. The strongest earthquake in history occurred in May 1960 in Chile, near several cities. Valdivia was the epicenter, where the vibrations reached their maximum, but the population was warned about the threat, since the day before the tremors were felt in the surrounding provinces of Chile.

Earthquake in Chile

Among the world's most destructive earthquakes is the Gobi-Altai disaster that struck Mongolia on December 4, 1957. The tragedy literally turned the earth inside out: fractures formed, demonstrating geological processes that are not visible under normal circumstances. High mountains in the mountain ranges ceased to exist, peaks collapsed, the usual mountain pattern was broken.

Earthquake in Mongolia

The tremors in the populated areas were increasing and lasted for quite a long time, until they reached 11-12 points. People managed to leave their homes seconds before total destruction. Dust from the mountains covered cities in southern Mongolia for 48 hours, visibility did not exceed a few tens of meters.

Another terrible cataclysm, estimated by seismologists at 11-12 points, occurred in the Himalayas, in the highlands of Tibet, in 1950. The terrible trace of the earthquake in the form of mudslides and landslides changed the relief of the mountains beyond recognition. With a terrible roar the mountains folded like paper and the dust clouds spread from the epicenter to a radius of 2000 km.

Earthquake in the Himalayas

Signs of earthquakes

Throughout the history of such phenomena, scientists have been able to identify the main signs of an incipient catastrophe. Earthquakes in Russia usually began after the following things:

  1. Residents of cities affected by the disaster, repeatedly pointed out that for some time before the tremors they felt a strong smell of gas, although previously in this area such a thing had not been observed.
  2. It has also been repeatedly pointed out that pets begin to behave restlessly, and birds outside show excessive animation.
  3. Some eyewitnesses and victims claim to have seen electrical wires sparking a few hours before the earthquake.
Russia's latest earthquake

The most destructive earthquakes in history.

Just the other day one of the strongest earthquakes in the history of the state of California occurred in the western U.S. Hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power. Infrastructure and roads were partially destroyed. Fortunately, this time there were no casualties. About 100,000 earthquakes of varying magnitude occur annually in the world. About 100 of them are particularly strong. The strongest quakes occur much less frequently, but are often catastrophic. With many victims and destruction. But in Earth history there have also been such quakes that entered the books as the most

Earthquake is a terrible force.

The most destructive earthquake in Japanese history

Japan is probably the most "lucky" with earthquakes.

On September 1, 1923, one of the deadliest earthquakes in human history occurred in the Kanto region of Japan. Its magnitude was 8.3. It almost completely destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama. The official death toll was 174,000. 542,000 people were missing. The total number of people affected was about 4 million. Of 694,000 homes and buildings, about 381,000 were completely or partially destroyed.

Iran's deadliest earthquake


The strength of the earthquake that struck Damgan on December 22, 856 was 7.9. As it was later determined, the epicenter was near the city itself. The complex surrounding geology of the region increased the area of maximum destruction, which was about 350 kilometers along the Alborz mountains. The towns of Ahewanu, Astan, Tash, Bastam and Shahrud were all devastated. The villages near them were very damaged or completely destroyed. The disaster took the lives of about 200,000 people.

Earthquake in Haiti, more than 200,000 casualties

200,000 people were victims of this earthquake.

The earthquake of January 12, 2010 in the Republic of Haiti took the lives of 222 570 people. According to official data, 311 000 people were differently injured. 869 people were missing. The amount of material damage from the catastrophe was 5.6 billion euros. The epicenter of the earthquake was 22 kilometers from the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. The first tremor was 7. After that many aftershocks were recorded. Some were stronger than 5.

Earthquake in Ganja

It can be "hot" in such beautiful places, too!

On September 30, 1139 there was an earthquake near the city of Ganja that took the life of nearly 230,000 people. According to historians, the earthquake was so powerful that it brought down the Kapaz Mountain, cutting off the Akhsu River. As a result, eight lakes formed in the region, one of them is Goygol. Now it is part of the Goygol reserve, which was established in 1965.

Gansu and Shaanxi Earthquake, China, 1556


It killed about 830,000 people, more than any other earthquake in human history. 20-meter-high sinkholes and cracks opened at the epicenter of the quake. The devastation affected areas 500 km from the epicenter. The huge number of victims was due to the fact that most of the province's population lived in loess caves, which collapsed after the first tremors or were flooded by debris flows.

Within six months after the earthquake, seismic shocks repeated several times a month, but of lower intensity.

All Saints' Day Cataclysm in Portugal

A terrible tragedy that took the lives of more than 80,000 Portuguese people occurred in Lisbon on November 1, 1755. This cataclysm is not included in the world's strongest earthquakes, neither in the number of victims, nor in the severity of seismic activity. But the terrible irony of the phenomenon: the tremors began when people went to celebrate in church. Lisbon's churches failed and collapsed, burying many unfortunates under them, and then a 6-meter tsunami hit the city, killing other people who were in the streets.

Lisbon earthquake of 1755

A deadly earthquake for one of the Wonders of the World

One of the most famous ancient earthquakes is the devastation of 244 B.C. In those days, according to scientists, there were much more frequent tremors, but this particular earthquake is especially famous: the statue of the legendary Colossus of Rhodes collapsed as a result of the tremors. This statue, according to ancient sources, was one of the eight wonders of the world. It was a giant lighthouse in the form of a statue of a man with a torch in his hand. The statue was so huge that a fleet could have sailed between its spread legs. The size played a cruel joke on Colossus: the legs ended up with a

Earthquake in Calcutta, India, 1737


This is the most tragic earthquake in the history of the country, which took the lives of about 300,000 people.

The Great Kanto Earthquake, Japan, 1923


A strong earthquake of magnitude 8.3 occurred in Japan on September 1, 1923. The earthquake killed several hundred thousand people and caused significant material damage to the entire nation. In terms of the scale of destruction and the number of victims it is the most devastating in Japanese history. The official death toll is 174 thousand, another 542 thousand were reported missing, over a million were left homeless. The total number of victims was about 4 million.

Japan's property damage from the Kanto earthquake was estimated at $4.5 billion, which was two times the country's annual budget at the time.

Earthquake in Chile, 1960


One of the strongest earthquakes in the history of mankind occurred in Chile on May 22, 1960, the magnitude of which reached 9.5 in the epicenter and the fault of 1000 kilometers. Due to the natural disaster, 1655 people died, 3000 people were injured, about 2 million people were left homeless, and the damages were caused by half a billion dollars. The tsunami, which occurred because of this quake, reached the coast of Japan, Philippines and Hawaii and caused extensive damage to coastal settlements.

Sumatra 2004, the largest in the geographical sense

The Sumatran earthquake of 2004 affected several countries: India, Thailand, South Africa, Sri Lanka. It is impossible to calculate the exact number of victims, because the main destructive force - the tsunami - swept tens of thousands of people into the ocean. This is the biggest earthquake in terms of geography, because its causes were the movement of plates in the Indian Ocean, followed by tremors up to 1600 km away. The ocean floor lifted as a result of the collision of Indian and Burma plates, from breaking plates in all directions ran tsunami waves that rolled for thousands kilometers

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Earthquake in the Indian Ocean in 2004

Ashkhabad earthquake in the Turkmen SSR, 1948


The most fateful earthquake in the Soviet Union consisted of two strong shocks several hours apart. The event took place on the night of November 5 to 6. The force of the natural disaster was approximately 9 points. It took several seconds to completely destroy 130 thousand inhabitants. It is still not clear how many people died that night. The estimated death toll is 160 thousand people, which adds up to 80% of the city and surroundings' total population.

Earthquake in the Indian Ocean, 2004

A submarine earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that has been declared the deadliest natural disaster in modern history. The earthquake's magnitude was variously estimated at 9.1 to 9.3.
Port Elizabeth in South Africa was devastated, even though it was a few thousand kilometers from the epicenter. Some coastlines had to face waves of over 20 meters. The enormous energy release that accompanied the collision of the tectonic plates caused Sumatra and its neighboring islands to shift several dozen meters. Various estimates put the death toll at between 225,000 and 300,000 people.

Earthquake in Haiti, 2010

After the main shock of magnitude 7, many aftershocks were registered, 15 of them with a magnitude of more than 5.

According to official data for March 18, 2010 the number of dead was 222,570 people, injured - 311 thousand people. The material damage is estimated at 5.6 billion euros.

Earthquake in Aleppo

Few structures can survive an earthquake.

On October 11, 1138, a magnitude 8.5 earthquake killed more than 230,000 people. Aleppo's population recovered only centuries later. The Aleppo earthquake was part of a series of earthquakes that occurred between 1138 and 1139, which swept through present-day northern Syria, southwestern Turkey, and later Iran and Azerbaijan.

What earthquakes were in Russia

Russia has repeatedly suffered from natural disasters, including major earthquakes. The landscape of our country is large and varied, as are the climatic zones. Seismically active areas are mainly located in Sakhalin and Kamchatka Krai.

Overview of the most destructive earthquakes in the Far East

Destruction after the 2007 Sakhalin earthquake It is impossible to surprise the residents of the eastern part of the country with an earthquake - they perceive earthquakes the same way people in central Russia perceive a light rain. But residents of the Far East never lose vigilance: they know exactly how careless attitude to this natural phenomenon can turn out. History has known real disasters that took the lives of thousands of Far East residents

The Far East regularly shakes - it is located at the junction of three large lithospheric plates (Eurasian, Pacific and North American). The plates are in the mobile layer of the upper mantle and slowly move at a rate of 1-6 cm per year, which causes disturbances in the crust, leading to earthquakes.The belt of seismic activity includes the western part of Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Island, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. At times the strength of earthquakes reaches 7-9 points on the Richter scale, but most often they are not.

Such geographical location of the region also explains the abundance of active volcanoes in Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands (180 volcanoes are known in Kamchatka alone, 29 of them are active).

Earthquake epicenters are most often located at depths of up to 500 kilometers: the farther from the mainland, the shallower the epicenter. They are relatively shallow under the oceanic water column and can cause destructive tsunamis due to their power.

Tsunami in Severo-Kurilsk (1952)

In 1898, the Japanese, who landed on the Kuril island of Paramushir, founded the fishing village of Kasivabara. In August 1945, the islands of the Kuril Ridge, together with Paramushir and Kasivabara were transferred to the Soviet Union, and the village got a clear Soviet name - Severo-Kurilsk. 7 years later, in November 1952, the tsunami of unprecedented force almost wiped the village off the map.

About 6,000 people lived in the settlement - seasonal workers who worked in the fishing industry, construction workers, soldiers of secret units, travelers from the "mainland. They settled in old Japanese buildings, in wooden huts and cabins. Most of the buildings of the settlement were located on the shore terrace, which exceeded the sea level by only 5-10 meters.

The 1952 tsunami swept entire houses into the sea

From the archives of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local Lore

The Russians, who arrived in Paramushir after the war, wondered why the local Ainu people built their huts on the inconvenient tops of the hills, when right in front of the bay such an attractive lowland area spreads out. No one knew what a tsunami was then - there was no warning system, no training, people even had no idea about the existence of such natural phenomena.

On November 5, 1952, at 4 a.m., 130 kilometers off the Kamchatka coast, a strong earthquake measuring 7-9 on the Richter scale struck, triggering a massive tsunami that traveled toward Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands.

Wreckage of ships washed ashore by the wave

From the archives of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local Lore

That November night, the residents of Severo-Kurilsk woke up and felt strong tremors, plaster falling from the ceiling, tables dancing and moving away from the walls, cabinets falling and broken dishes ringing. The frightened people ran out into the street, only managing to grab documents and their most valuable possessions.

The earthquake lasted about half an hour, getting weaker or stronger, and then it calmed down. It has happened here more than once, and soon the reassured Kurils returned to their homes.

No one suspected that at that time a giant 18-meter wave was already approaching them with enormous speed, which took only about an hour to reach the coast of Paramushir. When most residents had already started cleaning or preparing for bed again, the wave appeared on the foggy horizon.

The tsunami was first noticed by policeman Deryabin:

We heard a great noise and then a crack from the sea. When we looked around we saw a great high water wall coming from the sea onto the island... I gave the order to open fire with my personal weapons and shout: "Water is coming!" while retreating to the hills. Hearing the noise and shouting, people began to run out of their apartments in what they were wearing (most in underwear, barefoot), and run into the hills.

The wave grew higher and higher over the horizon, and it seemed to people that the village itself was sinking into some abyss. The foamy ridge crashed with terrible force from a great height onto the coastal structures, and the whole area was filled with the cracking of the buildings, the heart-rending screams of those drowning and running as fast as they could away from the shore.

Richter Scale

The Richter scale is a relative scale for classifying earthquakes by magnitude. It is based on an analysis of the energy of seismic waves that an earthquake generates. The scale was first proposed by American seismologist Charles Richter in 1935 and has now become widely used around the world. The maximum score assigned to an earthquake on the Richter scale is 9.

In a year on Earth there is approximately:

1 earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or higher;

10 - with a magnitude of 7.0-7.9;

100 - with a magnitude of 6.0-6.9;

1000 - with a magnitude of 5.0-5.9.

As the waves receded, it became clear that all the buildings on the coastal terrace had been destroyed or carried into the sea, and the moonlight clearly showed the wooden huts floating in the channel between Paramushir and Shumshu. After the danger seemed to have passed, people began descending the hills to their homes or what remained of them to help the injured and to look for their belongings.

No more than half an hour later, a second wave comparable in size to the first appeared on the horizon. The tsunami hit a cape northeast of the village and, breaking over it, went in a circle of the sinking bay where Severo-Kurilsk was located. People again ran to the hills. A fisherman who was near the port at the time called out, "Run for your lives on the kungas!" The surviving fishing boat had 18 people on board, but they didn't even have time to take up the oars: the wave picked them up and carried them out to open sea. Only two days later they could get back to the ruins

Fleeing from the huge wave, people tried to take shelter on the roofs of surviving houses, but the water easily lifted them from there and circled them, directing them farther and farther away from the shore.

The wave continued to swirl in the narrow valley and demolish everything in its path. With incredible force, it easily lifted trucks, tractors, and heavy machines from their pedestals, even the reliable safe of the State Bank, weighing 15 tons, was torn from its foundation and was thrown a dozen meters away.

The wave completely destroyed the village

From the archives of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local Lore

People showed amazing self-sacrifice - men grabbed children and elders in their arms and ran upstairs with them, knowing that they risked not being able to escape with such a burden.

In a report on the consequences of the natural disaster, the head of the Sakhalin regional police department Lieutenant Colonel Smirnov wrote:

Here are two girls leading an old woman under her arms. Pursued by the approaching wave, they try to run faster to the hill. The old woman, exhausted, sinks to the ground in exhaustion. She begs the girls to leave her and save themselves. But the girls through the noise and rattle of the impending disaster shout to her: "We're not leaving you anyway, let all drown together. They pick up the old woman in their arms and try to run, but at that moment the surging wave catches them and throws them all together on a hill. They are saved.

When the second wave rolled in, most of the survivors, soaked, half-naked and hungry, were left sitting on the slopes of the hills under the morning stars. They were freezing in the strong wind, rain and snow that rarely fell.For the next few days, until the evacuation, for which all available ships in the Far East were called in, the tsunami victims spent in dug-out dugouts on the hills around Severo-Kurilsk for army training exercises.

After the second wave, the frightened residents no longer tried to come down from the hills

From the archives of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local Lore

The third wave was no longer as strong, but only threw ashore the debris that filled the strait between the islands, and dragged the bodies of the dead into the sea.

The rescue was organized very quickly - captains of all kinds of ships, boats and other watercraft went out into the bay clogged with parts of buildings and fishing gear to rescue drowning people. Many residents of the village were carried along with the rolling waves into the wide bay, and now they were freezing in the cold water, holding on to floating all over the place logs and other debris.

The work of the sailors was not easy: propellers were tangled in fishing nets, we had to very carefully maneuver between the floating circle of garbage, not to become a victim of shipwreck. Captains and boat crews evacuated people to safe places. Besides sailors, soldiers from the Far Eastern military units and state security officials were also involved in eliminating the tsunami.

A witness to the disaster was the famous writer Arkady StrugatskyStrugatsky wrote to his brother Boris in Leningrad, who at the time served in the Kuril Islands as a military interpreter. He participated in eliminating the consequences of the catastrophic tsunami on Shumshu Island:

...I was on Syumushu Island (or Shumshu - look at the southern tip of Kamchatka). What I saw, did, and experienced there - I can't write about yet. I will only say that I was in an area where the disaster I wrote you about made itself particularly strong

The destructive tsunami wiped out the village of Severo-Kurilsk almost completely, and also wiped off the face of the earth were the settlements on the Kuril and Kamchatka coast: Utesny, Levashovo, Reef, Kamenisty, Pribrezhny, Galkino and others. The wave reached the Hawaiian Islands, which are 3000 kilometers from the earthquake epicenter. A real flood was recorded on Midway Island. Weak waves reached the coast of Alaska and Japan.

According to official data, the tsunami killed 2,336 people (mostly in Severo-Kurilsk). Most of the destroyed villages and settlements were never rebuilt, they disappeared forever.

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After the tsunami, Severo-Kurilsk was not rebuilt; the village was rebuilt on an elevated site

According to official data, the tsunami killed 2,336 people (mostly in Severo-Kurilsk). Most of the destroyed villages and settlements were never rebuilt, they disappeared forever.

Severo-Kurilsk was rebuilt on a new higher place in the same bay, and no special volcanological expertise was carried out when choosing a location for the settlement, the new place is safe in case of a repeat of this tsunami, but stands exactly in the path of lava and mud flows from the slope of Ebeko volcano, located just 7 kilometers from residential buildings.

The Severokurilsk tsunami of 1952 was the largest disaster of its kind in Russian history. It was the analysis of this tragedy that led to the creation of a tsunami warning system in the USSR (it started operating in 1955), and much later, in 1964, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR, decided to ban construction in tsunami-hazardous areas.


On March 27, 1995, it took only 17 seconds for the elements to wipe out the working village of Neftegorsk in the Sakhalin region. More than 2,000 residents of the village were killed, amounting to 80% residents. The widespread destruction made it impossible to rebuild the village, so the settlement became a ghost: a memorial plate was placed there to tell the victims of the tragedy, and the residents themselves were evacuated.

Sakhalin earthquake

A dangerous region in Russia in terms of seismic activity is any region at the junction of tectonic plates:

  • Kamchatka and Sakhalin,
  • Caucasian Republics,
  • Altai Krai.

In any of these regions there is still a possibility of a natural earthquake, because the mechanism of earthquake generation is still unexplored.

Restless Yakutia

Not only Kurils, Sakhalin and Kamchatka are located in the zone of high seismodanger, a significant part of Yakutia is also in the risk zone. 1000 weak earthquakes are registered here every year, and since 1951 about 15 really powerful earthquakes of 6 to 9 magnitude on the Richter scale have been registered.

Forecast of seismic hazard in the Far Eastern Federal District

The Far Eastern Federal District remains the most seismically active district in Russia. Until the end of 2016, there is a high probability of strong earthquakes (with magnitudes up to 7.0) in the south of Kamchatka and in the Avacha Bay area. The Northern Kuril Islands and the southern part of Sakhalin Island are also in the risk zone. High seismic activity in these areas has continued for the last decade, in 2015 373 earthquakes with magnitude of 5.0, which caused tremors of 2-3 on the Richter scale, were registered throughout the FEFD.

The famous cold pole - Oymyakon - is the center of one of the two seismically active regions of Yakutia. In 1971, one of the most powerful earthquakes in the history of observations in Russia was recorded near the village of Artyk. Its power was close to 9 points on the Richter scale.

Earthquake shocks were felt on a huge territory, several districts (and they are very large in Yakutia) were seized at once. Disturbances were registered even in Khabarovsk Krai and Magadan Oblast.

Another powerful earthquake occurred in South Yakutia in 1989, when a 15-20 meter wide and up to 3 meters deep fault was formed over its epicenter. You can only imagine what would have happened if there had been any populated area in the path of the fault. Fortunately, in both cases the earthquakes occurred in sparsely populated areas and caused no human casualties or significant damage.

Earthquake in Neftegorsk: history, consequences and interesting facts

Almost a quarter of a century ago, one of the most catastrophic earthquakes on the scale occurred in Russia. The town of Neftegorsk as a result of this natural disaster was 80 % destroyed, killing 62.5 % local residents. Four months and one day after the tragedy, the village was liquidated.

Village Neftegorsk

Neftegorsk in the north of Sakhalin (one of the many Russian settlements with that name) was founded in 1964. Originally called Vostok, the township was later renamed Neftegorsk. It was inhabited by oil producers, who worked on a rotational basis. The settlement was designed for a maximum of five thousand people.

Neptegorsk earthquake

It was one of the most well-appointed towns on Sakhalin, which is now listed as a defunct (destroyed) settlement. The reason for this was the devastating 1995 earthquake in Neftegorsk. The town officially ceased to exist on September 29, 1995 - four months and one day after the disaster.

After the earthquake it turned out that the houses that were built in Neftegorsk in the sixties were not designed for seismic zones at all. In addition, it turned out that there were gross violations of construction standards. Most houses collapsed completely, which was not even in Spitak in 1988. For reference: the Spitak earthquake of magnitude 6-7, which occurred in north-western Armenia, killed 25 thousand people.

On Sakhalin, these flimsy houses were built to make construction cheaper. As a result, most of the inhabitants of the upper floors were able to escape the rubble alive; many of those who lived on the lower floors died under the rubble. Thus, had it not been for the economy of the sixties, many of the victims would have been avoided.

A Brief Background

That year (1995) was the year of extraordinary seismic activity in the Pacific Ocean. For example, on January 17, 1995, one of the largest earthquakes in Japan occurred. The natural disaster nearly destroyed the city of Kobe on the island of Awaji. As a result of the disaster, over 6 thousand people died, and the property damage was estimated at 102.5 billion dollars, which was 2.5 % of the country's GDP at that time.

Neptegorsk earthquake 1995

Russian seismologists were expecting earthquakes in the Far East and Kamchatka, but the northern part of Sakhalin, where the disaster finally occurred, was considered less dangerous than the southern part or the Kuril Islands. In addition, most of the seismic stations that were built on Sakhalin during Soviet times had already fallen into disrepair by 1995.

Earthquake history

At the northeastern part of Sakhalin Island coast (Neftegorsk) the earthquake has happened on May 28, 1995 at 1:04 a.m. The intensity of shocks at the epicenter of catastrophe reached 8-10 points (by different estimations). At first they said that the intensity of shocks made up 9 points on Richter scale, later seismologists came to conclusion that it was less - about 7 points.

Seismic activity was felt not only in the north of the island, but also in many points on the nearest part of the continent. The village of Okha, Tungor, Kolendo, Sabo, Nogliki, Nekrasovka, Vostochny-1, Ekhabi and others were also affected by the natural disaster. But the worst consequences of the disaster were in Neftegorsk. The city was 25-30 km from the epicenter of seismic activity.

The earthquake in Neftegorsk (1995) was the most destructive in the region in the history of observations, that is, since 1909.

Sakhalin Neftegorsk earthquake

Victims and survivors

During the disaster 62.5 % residents of the village were killed, 80 % structures were destroyed. 2040 people were killed, in total in the village at that time lived almost 3200 residents. On the eve in the city last call rang, were held graduation parties. Of the 26 graduates of the school of Neftegorsk survived only nine people.

In total, in the zone of seismic activity there were more than 55 thousand people - the population of Neftegorsk, Okha and other settlements affected by the disaster. But the most severe consequences, as already mentioned, the disaster caused in Neftegorsk. In other towns there were not even fatal cases, there was minimal damage.

During the rescue operation after the earthquake in Neftegorsk, which lasted several weeks, more than two thousand people were rescued from under the rubble, most of them dead. More than three and a half hundred people are still missing.

Neptegorsk earthquake dead

Consequences of the tragedy

The earthquake in Neftegorsk destroyed almost all of the buildings and structures that had been built in the city over the past thirty years. Seventeen residential five-stories, four two-stories, four kindergartens and a school, a club, a hospital, and other structures were irrevocably destroyed. The houses simply collapsed under their own weight. In a few minutes they turned into huge piles of slag, fragments of concrete slabs, garbage, building materials.

Several local residents who were still awake or had time to quickly assess the situation jumped out of the windows, which saved them from death. But most residents of Neftegorsk were already asleep. They were buried under the rubble of their own homes. Interestingly, almost none of the single-story houses in the village were damaged.

The earthquake on Sakhalin (Neftegorsk, 1995) damaged power lines, the Okha - Komsomolsk-on-Amur oil pipeline, several oil pumping stations, over two hundred production wells, bridges and significant sections of roads. The town was left without telephone service and medical care. During the earthquake in Neftegorsk a hospital was completely destroyed, killing thirty doctors and nurses.

Neptegorsk 1995 earthquake

Earthquake in the Kemerovo region

The earthquake of 5.5 points occurred in 2013. In addition to the Kemerovo region, the earthquake was felt in the Novosibirsk region, the Tomsk region, as well as in the Altai Territory. The intensity of the earthquake in the Belovo area reached 6-7 points, in Belovo 5-6 points, in Novokuznetsk 4-5 points. Total damage was 1.7 billion rubles.

Earthquake in Nevelsk

Earthquake with magnitude of 6.7 occurred in 2007. Earthquake epicenter was located in the waters of Tatar Strait. The earthquake hit Nevelsk and the southern part of Sakhalin. Two people died in Nevelsk, 14 were injured. The earthquake damage amounted to more than 11.5 billion rubles.

Earthquake in Chechnya

It happened in 2008. tremors measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale killed 13 people and injured over 116. The tremors were felt not only in the North Caucasus, but also in Transcaucasia.

Baikal earthquake

It happened in 2008. The epicenter of tremors was located on the bottom of lake Baikal in 30 km from Baikalsk, 65 km to the South from Irkutsk. Underground tremors were felt all over Eastern Siberia. The Central seismic station in Irkutsk registered tremors with intensity 6-7 points. Despite incredible intensity of tremors the quake caused almost no significant damage and no victims were registered.

Earthquake in Tyva

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 occurred in 2011. The damage caused to the Republic of Khakassia is estimated at 5,000,000,000 rubles. The strong tremors were felt throughout southern Siberia, as well as in Mongolia.

Chu earthquake of 2003

Strength of the earthquake was 7.3. Numerous landslides, rockslides, cracks appeared in the earthquake zone. 1889 houses, where more than 7 000 people lived, 25 schools, 16 hospitals and 7 boiler houses were damaged in Altai Republic. Beltyr village was almost totally destroyed.
In the Altai region, the earthquake caused damage to high-rise structures. It affected not only Russia, but also Kazakhstan and China.

Earthquake in Tyva one year later

The earthquake with magnitude 6.7 - 6.9 occurred on February 26, 2012 at 14:17:16 local time. Intensity of the earthquake in the epicenter was 8.5 points. Epicenter of the earthquake was located at 101 km to the East from Kyzyl. Damage from the earthquake was estimated at 2 000 000 000 rubles. Over 1000 settlements were located in the earthquake zone.

Figures and Facts - Spitak Natural Cataclysm

A series of earth tremors began at 11:41 a.m. The magnitude of the earth shaking after the first tremor and for the next ten seconds reached 7.2 on the Richter scale. The minimum vibration of the Spitak disaster was 6.8 on the edge of the earthquake strike zone. The powerful earth tremors destroyed the entire northern part of the Soviet Republic of Armenia almost in half a minute. The disaster affected one million people who were left homeless, jobless and lost their health or lives.

The big city of Spitak was in the epicenter of the earthquakeThe intensity of the earthquakes in that locality reached 10 points (on a twelve-point Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik scale). The tremors were also significantly felt in other cities of the republic - Tbilisi and Yerevan, where the disaster destroyed multistory buildings, left settlements without communication and also significantly undermined the infrastructure.

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earthquake in 1988

According to scientists vibrationThe wave from the earthquake circled the globe twiceIts activity was registered even by laboratories in Europe. Also recorded vibrations in the scientific centers of America, Australia. Scientists in Asia also learned about the event almost immediately after the start of the disaster - the vibration of the Earth's crust swept around the world.

As for people, the loss of life was record high. According to official data About 25,000 people died as a result of the Spitak catastropheBut unofficial statistics is much sadder - it says that the earthquake took the lives of 150 thousand people. nearly 21 thousand people were left disabled. 515 thousand people were left homeless. the Spitak disaster is one of the worst cataclysms that have occurred in the world over the past two hundred years.

If Soviet and world statistics are to be believed, then The devastating disaster covered more than 41% of the entire territory of the Republic of Armenia.In one second, the economy of the USSR was destroyed and thousands of people were killed.

December earthquake in Armenia

According to scientists, this small Transcaucasian country is in an extremely earthquake-prone zone. What happened on December 7 (the earthquake in Armenia) has happened before, as evidenced by the ruins of ancient cities and mentioned in manuscripts in which the monks-witnesses in different centuries left records of what happened when "God was angry at people, and the ground was falling from under their feet".

Earthquake victims in Armenia

In 1988 there were still alive those who remembered the earthquake in Armenia, which occurred on October 22, 1926. It affected the same region as the Spitak earthquake, but it was less destructive. In addition, in the first decades of the 20th century the population of the northern regions of the Armenian Soviet Union was quite small, so there were many times fewer victims than during the 1988 disaster.

Damage from the Spitak disaster

If we do not talk about the damage that the disaster caused by the destruction of residential buildings, then we should remember that At the time of the Spitak disaster, the Armenian nuclear power plant ceased to functionIt was barely shut down in the first seconds of the earthquake, for fear of an accident. As the employees of the Armenian NPP claimed, a few more seconds would have added a man-made accident to the natural disaster. After the emergency shutdown, the reactors were placed in special concrete capsules in vaults under the plant. This guaranteed safety, but significantly affected the quality of industry. One reactor could never be removed from storage later.

Spitak city

The ground shaking destroyed about 45% of industry in the Armenian SSR. The main damage occurred in the city of Spitak and 58 villages in the area - these settlements were completely destroyed, all road junctions were unusable. The city of Leninakan (today the city of Gyumri), Stepanavan and Vanadzor were partially affected. About 56% of industrial capacity was destroyed in these localities after the disaster, but the roads survived. Therefore, emergency medical assistance was promptly dispatched to the sites. Another 300 settlements and towns required significant reconstruction.

According to unofficial data, 21 cities and 360 villages were affected by the natural disaster. 59 villages are statistically known to have been completely destroyed, the earthquake flattened them to the ground.disaster in Armenia

Statistics of land fluctuations published in the Armenian SSR (on a 12-point scale):

  1. City Spitak - 10 points.
  2. City Leninakan - 9 points.
  3. City Kirovakane - 8 points.
  4. City Tbilisi - 6.8 points.
  5. City Yerevan - 6 points.
Spitak city Armenia

During the earthquake were destroyed and completely ceased to function:

  1. 932 secondary and special schools.
  2. 895 Kindergartens and pre-schools
  3. 416 hospitals, health care facilities, and first-aid posts.
  4. Two national academic theaters, which were the cultural and historical heritage of the republic.
  5. 14 national museums and art galleries.
  6. 401 libraries and reading rooms.
  7. 42 state cinemas.
  8. 349 cultural and creative institutions, houses of culture, art studios and youth clubs.
  9. 600kilometers The roads had become completely unusable and could not be reconstructed.
  10. 230 industrial enterprises were wiped out, not to be reconstructed or rebuilt.
  11. 12 kilometers of railway tracks were completely destroyed and put out of service, according to unofficial data - more than 26 kilometers.
  12. 874 The store was wiped out.
  13. 147 warehouses of industrial products, grains, and sales goods were demolished by the earthquake.
disaster in Spitak

New version of the causes of the earthquake

The unfounded version that the earthquake was caused by underground weapons testing is still surfacing online.Five hundred thousand people lost their homes as a result of the Spitak earthquake

Recently, however, Samvel Hakobyan, General Director of the International Center for Global Monitoring and Seismic Weather Forecasting and a leading researcher at the Earth Physics Institute of RAS, stated that the large-scale disaster may have been caused by a technogenic factor - the construction of the Akhuryan reservoir.

Seismic characteristics of the Spitak earthquake

The catastrophe happened on December 7, 1988 at 10:41 a.m. Moscow time. The village of Nalband (today Shirakamut) near Spitak city was the epicenter of the disaster and it measured 10 on the MSK-64 scale and was felt in the settlements, too:

  • Leninakan (Gyumri) - 9 points.
  • Kirovakan (Vanadzor) - 8-9 points.
  • Stepanavan - 9 points.
  • Yerevan - 6 points.

The main shock lasted 35-45 seconds and was followed by less intense aftershocks. According to eyewitnesses, several days before the earthquake weak tremors were observed. In addition, in artificial reservoirs where fish were raised, they surfaced and stayed on the surface, and pets were also extremely restless.

The situation in the USSR in 1988

The second half of the 1980s was not an easy time for the entire Soviet Union. Gorbachev's democratization drive led to a growing national consciousness in most republics. At the same time, economic problems inherited by the new leadership from the stagnation era led a large proportion of citizens living in national formations to seek the root of all troubles in the lack of independence. The situation was particularly tense in places where for centuries the fire of ethnic conflict had smoldered and borders were

Situation in the republic at the time of the earthquake in Armenia (1988)

In 1987 in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, where over 761T of the population was Armenian, there was a movement to join the Armenian USSR. On February 20, 1988, taking into account the opinion of the majority of the population, the people's deputies of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region decided to appeal to the USSR leadership with a request to secede from the Azerbaijan SSR. In response, in late February 1988 brutal pogroms began in Sumgait and Baku, during which the Armenians, who had no relation to the events, were killed and expelled from their homes.

Earthquake in Armenia on December 7

December 7

That day is still remembered today in the smallest detail by all residents of Armenia, including those who were five or six years old in 1988. Even in Yerevan, which is 98 km from the epicenter, the tremors caused panic and drove people to the streets. As for the disaster zone itself, within 35-40 seconds whole neighborhoods and villages turned into ruins and buried under themselves tens of thousands of people. In the first hours after the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, in some settlements there was simply nobody to perform rescue operations. By now

earthquake in Armenia on December 7, 1988


The earthquake in Armenia on December 7, 1988, killed at least 25,000 people and disabled another 19,000. The situation was complicated in the first two days by the fact that almost all hospitals in the disaster area were destroyed and most of the medical staff was either dead or under the rubble. Thus, most of the skilled medical care was provided by mobile medical teams from neighboring regions of Armenia. In addition, many people who were under the rubble died as the seventh or eighth rescue workers catast

earthquake in Armenia 1988


Even after 27 years, rescuers and construction workers from dozens of regions of the RSFSR, the Ukraine, Belarus SSR and other parts of the Soviet Union still remember the earthquake in Armenia with warmth and gratitude. Many Spitak residents who were left homeless survived thanks to Kazakh yurts. Soon help began to arrive from abroad. In particular, groups of highly qualified rescuers from European countries were sent to the republic. Much help was also provided by the Armenian diaspora. In particular

earthquake in Armenia

Unofficial sources, speculation - secret testing of hydrogen bombs in the USSR

Experts have calculated that in the rupture zone of the earth's crust at the time of the Spitak earthquake, the energy released was equal to an explosion of ten Hiroshima-Nagasaki type nuclear bombs. Some modern researchers are convinced that an ordinary earthquake in a fairly calm region simply could not physically have such a large energy potential. Modern physicists and seismologists believe that the Spitak disaster was nothing more than a Soviet secret test of hydrogen bombs.

Unofficial speculation is that the USSR, in a arms race with the United States, decided to invent unique lethal weapons in response to the atomic warheads. This was followed by the design of unique hydrogen bombs with an incredibly high energy capacity.

disaster of 1988

According to presumptive calculations, given the technological capabilities of the Soviet Union at the time, one such bomb could have the power of five atomic warheads of the type that were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That is, it is assumed that two such bombs were tested under the city of Spitak. It was they that could cause such a strong earth shaking effect and also lead to the appearance of a crack at the junction of the tectonic plates in Armenia.

But is it profitable for such a large country, even during perestroika, to test weapons, if there is a threat to ruin the infrastructure of the city? After all, to resume Spitake and the county - the Union then spent, to put it mildly, not a little money... The answers to these questions are ambiguous and conditionally divided into two camps.

Some physicists argue that the inventors simply did not expect that they could cause an earthquake of such magnitude. And they tested it near Spitak exclusively because this zone is considered seismically active. That is, they would not pay much attention to a small earthquake as a result of the explosion. According to the second version proposed by historians and political technologists, the Armenian SSR was not bringing much income to the country. Therefore, they tested it there, without fear of shaking the economic standing of the entire Soviet Union with this explosion.

The consequences of the earthquake in Armenia

However, the hydrogen bomb test versions are not official. Although these assumptions have been made public by fairly influential people, they have never been officially confirmed. Today it is too late to search for the truth, because over the years it has managed to get lost under the rubble of the city, lost among the hundreds of thousands of dead.



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