Which was the most damaging earthquake in recent history?

It was July 28, 1976 earthquake that rocked the Chinese city of Tangshan at four o’clock in the morning. In less than a minute, 89% of the homes and 78% of the industrial buildings were destroyed (photo, above); killing 250,000 people, according to the official report. However, international observers believe that the death toll was even higher – about 750,000, which means that the quake claimed three-fourth of the area’s total population. A quake had not occurred in that region in six centuries and the area was considered to be at low risk for earthquakes. Consequently, the building codes in the region were not stringent enough for the structures to withstand the force of the earthquake.
Tangshan Earthquake
China was also the site of the worst earthquake recorded: On January 24, 1556, a quake rocked the Shanxi province, killing more than 830,000 people.

Additional reading:
1976 Tangshan earthquake (Wikipedia)

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