What was the single deadliest hour in human history?

• 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake
The morning hours on the 23rd January 1556 in Shaanxi, China. On this day, the deadliest recorded earthquake ever occurred, killing roughly 830,000 although that is an estimate. It is the third worst Natural Disaster ever recorded, however unlike the other, deadlier natural disasters, this occurred over a very short period, making it the single deadliest hour in human history.

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An 840km wide area in the provinces of Shaanxi, Henan, Gansu, Hebei, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiansu and Anhui was destroyed. That’s larger than 24 countries, including Singapore, Tonga and Bahrain. This massive death toll is thought to have reduced the population of the two provinces by about 60 percent.

It is believed to have been 8.0 on the Richter scale, which would make it devastating even in a country which was built to combat earthquakes, but what made the problem worse was that many Chinese people lived in Yaodongs. Yaodong means ‘house cave’. It is estimated that 40 million people in China still live in these Yaodongs.

A beautiful example of a Yaodong

A beautiful example of a Yaodong

Now when the Earthquake occurred, landslides occurred in these mountains, and the inhabitants on the Yaodongs were crushed. It is estimated that 810,000 of the deaths came from people dying in collapsed Yaodongs.

 

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