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Seismic Moment: The True Cost of Earthquakes

The real cost of earthquakes

Earthquakes, from the smallest shifts to the major shocks that topple buildings, are under constant surveillance by entities like the US Geological Survey. This government agency does not issue predictions about earthquakes, but instead seeks to educate the public about the true cost of these catastrophic events.

Unfortunately, the true cost of earthquakes cannot be predicted, either. They can cause millions, if not billions in damage and can claim the lives of thousands of human beings in just a moment. Twelve earthquakes, and the damage they caused, are listed below:

Tokyo, Japan – September 1, 1923

The magnitude of this quake was 8.3 on the Richter scale. It caused $7.418 billion in damages and took the lives of 142,000 people.

Loma Prieta, California – October 17, 1989

This earthquake measured 6.9. It caused $1.66 billion and 70 fatalities.

New South Wales, Australia – December 28, 1989

Measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, and caused 15 deaths. It also caused $1.162 billion in damage.

Northridge, California – January 17, 1994

This quake caused 60 fatalities and losses of $22.2 billion. It measured 6.7 in magnitude.

Kobe, Japan – January 17, 1995

This earthquake caused 6,430 fatalities and losses estimated at $4.23 billion. It measured 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Izmit, Turkey – August 17, 1999

This quake measured 7.6 on the Richter scale. It caused $744 million in damages and claimed the lives of 17,200 people.

Nantou, Taiwan – September 21, 1999

This earthquake caused damages of $986 million and 2,400 fatalities. It measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.

Honshu, Japan – October 22, 2004

Measuring 6.6 in magnitude, this earthquake caused 45 fatalities and losses of $685 million.

Indonesian Tsunami – December 26, 2004

This tsunami had a magnitude of 8.8. It caused $1.138 billion in damage and claimed the lives of 220,000 people.

Niigata, Japan – July 16, 2007

Measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, this earthquake caused $347 million in damages. It also caused 10 fatalities.

Port au Prince, Haiti – January 12, 2010

This earthquake caused $40 million in damages. Measuring 7.0 in magnitude, it also claimed the lives of 316,000 people.

Maule Region, Chile – February 27, 2010

Measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, this earthquake caused $8 billion in damage and caused 521 deaths

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