Today, January 23, 1556, one of the top 10 worst disasters in the world happened – a massive earthquake rocks the region of Shaanxi, China, killing an estimated 830,000 people. Though the count may be a loose translation of this massive quake, today it is still considered the deadliest natural disaster of all times.
The quake struck in late evening, with aftershocks throughout the night and into the following morning. Scientists later determined the earthquake was approximately 8-8.3 on the Richter scale – though not the strongest tremor recorded in history the quake struck a densely populated region where poor quality buildings as well as one of the largest cave dwellers lived in the hills, mountains and dirt piles throughout the region.
The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Wei River Valley in the province of Shaanxi, near the cities of Huaxian, Weinan and Huayin. In the city of Huaxian every single building and home collapsed – killing more than half the city’s population.
In numerous regions up to 60-foot-deep crevices opened up in the earth. Today some of this destruction and movement can still be noted in numerous areas in and around Shaanxi Province.
The death toll also took its toll nearly 300 miles away from the epicenter, triggering landslides and other unaccountable disasters.
Today the deadliest known disaster took the lives of 230,000 on the Boxing Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean – by that standard alone, the Shaanxi Earthquake was 3 1/2 times more deadly – giving it one of the deadliest destructive disasters of all times.