The Biggest Earthquake In the World


Anansh Gupta, Journalist

The Biggest Earthquake In the World


Have you ever felt an earthquake? If you have, the one you experienced was probably one of the smaller ones. The biggest earthquake was in Valdivia, Chile, on May 22, 1960. About 1,665 people died and it left around 3,000 people injured. It caused 2 million people homeless and caused around 550 million dollars of damage. The magnitude of the earthquake was 9.5.


“This is an exercise,” says Ricardo Toro, who is a former army general now in charge of Chile’s disaster relief agency, ONEMI. “We have a plan called ‘Chile Prepares’ of which the principal and most important part is evacuation exercises. Every year we – at a minimum – run six or seven evacuations of entire regions.” They prepare for earthquakes by practicing evacuations. This helps people in Chile know what to do when there is an earthquake.

“The difference between being in an earthquake and being in a disaster is the level of preparation. This begins with Chile’s strict building codes,” says Christophe Schmachtel, who is a UN humanitarian affairs officer based in Geneva. This quote tells us that Chile has specially designed buildings made to withstand earthquakes. “In 2010 (when Chile suffered another devastating earthquake), We didn’t know who to call.” says Christophe Schmachtel. Now they are preparing in case another earthquake happens.

“Earthquakes may be brought about because wind is caught up in the earth. The earth is dislocated in small masses and is continually shaken, and that causes it to sway.” – Epicurus. We can say that the earthquake in Chile was caused by a sudden release of stress along faults in the earth’s crust, like every other earthquake. The continuous motion of tectonic plates causes a steady build-up of pressure in the rock strata on both sides of a fault until the stress is sufficiently great that it is released in a sudden, jerky movement. So basically, the biggest earthquake in the world happened like every other earthquake, but the sudden release of stress along faults made it the biggest one.

Sites used:

Ducksters – Earthquakes

Chile Earthquake of 1960

How did Chile manage to survive virtually unscathed?