Deadliest Tsunamis since 1900

A tsunami is a significant series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water in an ocean.


A tsunami is a series of waves in water bodies that are ignited by displacement of a large volume of water, generally in large water bodies such as oceans or lakes. Tsunamis occur most frequently in the Pacific Ocean as a result of the movement of the tectonic plates along the boundaries in the Pacific Ring of Fire which often trigger volcanic and seismic activities. In some cases, a tsunami may extend over a vast geographical distance, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which spread over eleven countries on the Indian Ocean. Such tsunamis are referred to as teletsunamis. Tsunamis are a natural phenomenon in the world with the oldest being recorded in the 479 BCE, in the town of Potidaea, Greece.

Deadliest Tsunamis since 1900

The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake And Tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake of December 26, 2004, triggered a series of continuous lethal tsunamis that claimed approximately 230,210 lives. Out of all who perished from the tsunami, 168,000 were from Indonesia alone thus clinching the record of not only the most deadly tsunami in human history but also one of the worst natural disasters of all time. The tsunami which was caused by the third largest earthquake in history happened in the Indian Ocean, causing massive destruction in over ten countries. This teletsunami had its initial surge measured at the height of approximately 33 meters, making it the largest earthquake-generated tsunami as well. The epicenter of this tsunami was the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia and the quake had a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3. The tsunami was caused by the undersea thrust earthquake when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma plate and triggering a series of destructive tsunamis along countries on the Indian coast. The most affected country was Indonesia along with Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The 1908 Messina Earthquake

The Messina earthquake was caused by an underwater landslide triggering an earthquake that killed about 123,000 people in Messina, Italy on December 28, 1908. The quake, also referred to as the 1908 Messina and Reggio earthquake, had its epicenter in the Strait of Messina which separates Reggio Calabria on the Italian mainland from the busy port city of Messina in Sicily. The quake was felt in a radius of 186 miles. This tsunami left Messina under extreme depopulation with only 19, 000 people remaining with an utmost 2,000 remaining in the old city center. The earthquake almost brought everything to the ground in Messina with 91% of the structures being damaged irreparably. It was the most destructive earthquake to hit Europe

The 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake And Tsunami

This tragic tsunami which occurred on March 11, 2011, at the Pacific coast of Japan is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan doubling as the fourth in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake also caused a powerful tsunami that had its surge height estimated at 133 feet above sea level and traveled up to 6 miles inland. The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake leaving 18,550 people confirmed either dead or missing and left around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan without electricity. An additional 1.5 million households were rendered waterless.

Most Fatal Of All Tsunamis Since 1900

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami holds the record of being the deadliest of all tsunamis since 1900 having claimed more than 230,000 lives in eleven countries, amongst them are Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Somalia, and Kenya. The 1992 Nicaragua earthquake is the least deadly tsunami since 1900 having killed some 116 people in Nicaragua.

Deadliest Tsunamis since 1900

RankTsunami NameLocationYearCasualities (estimated)
12004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamiIndian Ocean2004230,210
21908 Messina EarthquakeMessina, Italy1908123,000
32011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiJapan201118,550
41960 Valdivia earthquae Valdivia, Chile, and Pacific Ocean19606,000
51976 Moro Gulf earthquakeMoro Gulf, Mindanao, Philippines19765,000
61945 Balochistan earthquakeArabian Sea, Indian Ocean19454,000
71933 Sanriku earthquakeSanriku, Japan19333,068
81952 Severo-Kurilsk tsunamiSevero-Kurilsk, Kuril Islands, USSR (Russia)19522,336
91998 Papua New Guinea earthquakePapua New Guinea19982,200
101946 Nankai earthquakeNankai, Japan19461,500
111944 Tōnankai earthquakeTōnankai, Japan19441,223
122006 Pangandaran earthquake and tsunamiSouth of Java Island2006800
132010 Chile earthquakeChile2010525
141906 Ecuador–Colombia earthquakeTumaco-Esmeraldas, Colombia-Ecuador1906500
152010 Mentawai earthquake and tsunamiSumatra, Indonesia2010408
161979 Tumaco earthquakeTumaco, Colombia1979259
171994 Java earthquakeJava and Bali, Indonesia1993250
181993 Hokkaido earthquakeOkushiri, Hokkaido, Japan1993197
192009 Samoa earthquake and tsunamiSamoa2009189
201983 Sea of Japan earthquakeSea of Japan1983170
211999 Izmit earthquakeSea of Marmara1999150
221964 Alaska earthquakeAlaska, USA and Pacific Ocean1964121
231992 Nicaragua earthquakeNicaragua1992116


Your MLA Citation

Your APA Citation

Your Chicago Citation

Your Harvard Citation

Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.


More in Environment