You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake – Jeannette Rankin
Well yes, we can win more wars than we can win an earthquake, at least it makes sense. If you are careful and smart enough, you might survive a war. Sure you can die at any time from a gunshot but if you move carefully, stay in your own territory, and don’t do dumb things, you can survive.
We know that it is easier said than done but during an earthquake, all you can do is find a place, duck, and hope for the best. It’s either this or run fast as you can to an open and safe place. Sometimes you don’t even have time to do this. Most of the time, it is pure dumb luck. This is why we say that you can win more wars than winning an earthquake.
Here we will talk about earthquakes – what is it, what are their major types are, what makes them dangerous, and a summary of earthquakes in Nepal before deciding which earthquake can be considered as the deadliest one.
We all know what it is, some of us still haven’t gotten over the trauma of the one from 2015. Unless you are a toddler, you know what it is. It is basically the shaking of the ground that occurs naturally.
By this definition, you may think that they are rare but it is not. In fact, there is an average of 55 earthquakes around the globe every day. This amounts to approximately 20 thousand earthquakes each year. The good news however is that most of these are too small to be noticed or damage us.
For one to cause any significant damage to us humans, it needs to happen in a populated area with a scale of over 5.5 Richter scale. For those who don’t know what a Richtet Scale is, it is basically a numerical scale for measuring the magnitude of an earthquake based on seismographic oscillation.
That being said, not all of them are formed the same.
Causes of Earthquake
There are a few major causes. Since they are basically earth tremors, anything can cause one if it causes enough damage to the earth’s surface. They can be both natural and man-made. The four major causes of earthquakes are:
This type is caused by the fracturing or movement of the tectonic plates that happens when the rocky surface (earth crust) exceeds its threshold of pressure.
These ones are caused by vibrations generated by the movement of magma or other fluids in the volcano. The pressure builds in the volcano which causes small tremors. Along with this, when a volcano erupts, it can release a massive amount of shockwaves that travel through the ground. Sometimes these shockwaves are powerful to cause earthquakes.
Earth is filled with caverns and mines underground. These caverns and mines can collapse due to several reasons including erosions, landslides, and floods. When these caverns and mines collapse, it can generate enough force to make the ground tremble to cause one.
This is a lot similar to a volcanic earthquake. When an explosion happens it can generate enough shock waves to shake the earth’s surface and cause an earthquake. The difference here is that in this case, the explosions are caused by us humans.
But the thing here is, an earthquake in itself is not a danger to a large number of living beings like us. If it occurs in the middle of a desert then regardless of how violent it is or how big it is, it won’t be considered a deadly one.
What makes an earthquake deadly?
An earthquake can only be considered deadly if it affects a large number of living beings. If there are no living beings that risk dying in an earthquake, the most it will be considered is a danger to the environment or a threat to the climate.
Now don’t get us wrong, these can turn dangerous over time but they are not innately and immediately dangerous. However, earthquakes can occur almost everywhere. The shake is not dangerous innately either. But just because the cause isn’t dangerous doesn’t mean that its effect isn’t as well. Here are a few ways how earthquakes become deadly.
This is likely to be the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of an earthquake – shaking the earth and falling buildings. A shake won’t kill you, it can make you nauseous but is less likely to kill you. What can kill you are the falling buildings caused by the earthquake. It can easily destroy and crumble buildings. If you are living in a rural area with few buildings, then you have less danger of being killed by structural failure but if you are living in an urban area, be prepared to find a strong structure and duck.
Don’t think about running off to an open area, you probably won’t make it far so better find a strong structure, cover your head, and duck underneath it.
Surface Rupture and Ground Displacement
If you are lucky enough to survive a falling building then what about cracking ground. We have all seen one or two disaster movies where the ground splits apart and people fall in those cracks. Well, this is exactly what an earthquake can do. Although there need to be specific criteria for this to happen, this event is still not that too rare.
When this happens, run as fast as you can to more solid ground. If you can find some hard surface, possibly bedrock near you, run towards that while keeping an eye on the ground looking out for any cracks. The more solid the ground is, the safer you will be.
Landslides and liquefaction
Both of these are rather similar. The ground becomes loose and it destroys stuff. The only difference is that during a landslide, the ground becomes loose without having a trace of liquid, and during liquefaction, the soil becomes loose and mixes with water on the surface of the earth to become liquid. One can crush you while the other can suffocate you.
When this happens, if you are near a building, get under a solid structure and duck underneath it. If you are in an open area, try to find somewhere solid to take cover underneath.
Tsunami is a Japanese word where “Tsu” means “haven, port, harbor, ferry” and “nami” meaning “Beautiful, Red Apple, Wave.” Here the meanings of Harbor and Wave are combined to mean an ocean wave that destroys harbors. A tsunami is an ocean wave that is caused by an underwater earthquake. These waves can rise to 100 feet high. So when this occurs, you have a few options to die – drown, get crushed by a falling building, or get wiped out by the wave.
Although this will never happen in Nepal, it is a regular sight in Japan. So if you are in the land of Animes and get caught in this run for the top floor of tall and strong buildings if you are far enough from the waves. If you are not, then run towards the highest point you can find aware from the shoreline. You may not be able to outrun a tsunami when it happens but you can hit the gas as soon as you get the news and hopefully reach far enough to survive.
History of Earthquakes in Nepal
So what about the earthquakes in Nepal? We have talked about what causes an earthquake and what makes it deadly but how about its context in Nepal – our home country?
Well for those who didn’t know Nepal is in one of the most earthquake-prone zones in the world. It lies in the foothill of the Himalayas. If you didn’t know Himalayas were formed when the Indian subcontinent collided with the Asian pushing the rocks upwards. This means that Nepal lies dead center in this tectonic fault.
Due to this reason, there have been many earthquakes in Nepal. The Following is a table showing the date, magnitude, location, and total deaths
|Date||Time of occurrence||Location||Magnitude||Total deaths|
|1255 June 7th AD||N/A||Kathmandu||7.7||2200|
|1681 AD Dec/January||N/A||Northern Koshi||8.0||4500|
|1767 AD June/July||N/A||Kathmandu||7.9||4000|
|1833 AD||06:00 PM|
|1934 AD – Jan – 15||02:00 PM||Nepal – Bihar||8.4||8,519|
|1988 AD||11:09 PM||Kathmandu||6.6||1091|
|2011 AD – 09 – 18||06:25 PM||Sikkim||6.9||111|
|2015 – 04 – 25/05-12||11:56/12:38||Dolakha||7.8/7.3||8943|
This table probably brought out some traumatic memories for some of you. If it did, we ask for forgiveness.
But keeping that aside these death tolls tells us how deadly earthquakes can be. It doesn’t have to be of a high magnitude, if it happens when people are least prepared, it will take lives. The earthquake of 1988 is a good example of this. It occurred at 11:09 PM – the time when people would likely be sleeping. Although the magnitude was just 6.6 it took way more lives than it should have.
What can be considered as the Deadliest earthquake?
There is no definite answer to this. It all depends on the scale of the earthquake, the population of the location, and the relative deaths caused by the earthquake.
So the deadliest earthquake is the one that occurs when people are least prepared with a strong enough impact at a place where a lot of people and buildings exist.
It doesn’t have to be a massive one to be called the deadliest one. Even a small one can cause tons of death if it hits a location where a lot of people live in weak but compact building structures. The same can be said for any earthquakes that hit at nighttime – when people are most vulnerable.
If one hits during the nighttime, besides a few night owls, the chances are most will be killed and buried in the rubble without them knowing it.
So it can be concluded that the deadliest earthquakes are the ones that hit urban areas during the night.
Although this is a morbid topic, to begin with, we still hope that you got some useful information out of this. And as always, thank you for reading till the end. Do let us know if you have any suggestions for us in the comments down below. Be sure to follow our Youtube channel as well. It will be linked below as well.