When we hear the word tsunami we all picture a wave. Given it’s a really big wave but it’s hard to picture waves that can engulf an entire apartment building, and then move it miles inland, and then back out into the sea with the receding water. The terror brought on by these waves cannot be imagined, and it is one of the most dangerous forms of natural disasters we have on the planet.
The worst tsunami in recorded history happened around 8,000 years ago in Sicily. A volcano set this wave in motion by triggering a 200 mph avalanche, that sent waves crashing in the the Mediterranean Sea. The geological records indicate that the waves sent by this avalanche were taller than a ten story building, if you can imagine what that must have looked like.
On November 1st, in 1755, an earthquake struck Lisbon, Portugal which scientists have estimated to have been around 8.5 to 9.0. This earthquake destroyed the city, and spread fires everywhere. A major tsunami followed, which didn’t help those that had taken to the boats to escape the fires. Total, an estimated 60,000 people were killed.
On August 27th, 1883, the Kratatoa volcano erupted triggering a tsunami that killed 36,000 people. The hardest hit places were the Indonesian Islands and southern Sumantra. This tsunami was so strong that it lifted blocks that weighed over 600 tons, and left many of these rocks behind when the tsunami receded.
May 22nd, 1960, one of the largest recorded earthquakes hit Chile, registering at an 8.6. This triggered a tsunami that hit the coast within 15 mins of the quake, giving people no time to be warned of the impending danger. The surge, which was 75 feet high, killed around 1,500 people in total.
One of the worst in history is the December 26th, 2004 major earthquake in Indonesia, which registered between a 9.1 and a 9.3. This triggered a tsunami and somewhere around 230,000 people were killed, most from the tsunami itself. The tsunami and the earthquake were named, Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as the waves triggered by this earthquake were felt around the world, even in Nova Scotia and Peru.