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10 Biggest Tsunamis in History

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In this article, we will discuss the 10 biggest tsunamis in history.

A tsunami may be defined as a series of huge waves occurred by the displacement of a large volume of water because of the earthquake in an ocean or lake, a volcanic eruption in the sea or ocean, and many more reasons.

About 80% of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean.

Major countries like Japan, the USA, Hawaii, etc are very prone to the risk of tsunamis. Landlocked countries are safe from tsunamis.

An earthquake of 7.5 magnitudes or more can help a tsunami to occur.



  1. 10 Biggest Tsunamis in History  

The list of the 10 biggest Tsunamis in history is prepared depending on the magnitude and destruction of the tsunamis. The top 10 biggest tsunamis in history are as follows:


10. Ise Bay, Japan 

A tsunami was measured in Lake Biwa, Wakasa Bay, and Ise Bay, however, these may have been seiches as the fracture did not expand deep. A wave of the height of 3 meters was measured at Ise Bay, while at Wakasa Bay, the tsunami was measured to be 4-5 meters.

Reports of 8,000 fatalities in Ise Bay due to the tsunami are now considered unreliable, but deaths from drowning were reported.


Biggest Tsunamis in History


Date January 18, 1586
Time 23:00 Local Time
Injured 5,041
Death  8,000


9. Ryuku Islands Tsunami

Ryuki Islands Tsunami happened due to the Yaeyama Great Earthquake at around 8 A.M. on April 24, 1771, south-southeast of Ishigaki Island, area of the former Ryūkyū Kingdom and now area of present-day Okinawa, Japan.

According to data, 8,439 persons were killed on Ishigaki Island and 2,548 on Miyako Island. The dead and missing are recorded to be 12,000 people, and more than 2,000 houses were damaged on Ishigaki and Miyakojima.


Date April 24, 1771
Time 8 AM
Injured 3000
Death  11000


Biggest Tsunamis in History


8. Northern Chile Tsunami 

The 1868 Arica earthquake happened on the date 13 August 1868, near Arica, then an area of Peru, now an area of Chile, at 21:30 UTC. Due to this earthquake a tsunami produced that was observed across the Pacific, most of the related damage was localised along the coasts of southern Peru and what is now northernmost Chile.

The first wave resulted at Arica 52 minutes later the earthquake, with a 12 m (39 ft) height, obeyed by the largest 16 m (52 ft) wave 73 minutes after.


Date 13 August 1868
Time 21:30 UTC
Injured 200
Death  25,000


Biggest Tsunamis in History


7. Sanriku Tsunami

On the evening time on the date of June 15, 1896, societies along the Sanriku coast in northern Japan were enjoying a Shinto holiday and the get back of soldiers from the First Sino-Japanese War.

After tiny tremors, there was a small worry because it wasn’t so strong and a different tiny earthquake had also been experienced in the past few months. However, After 35 minutes the first tsunami wave hit the coast, obeyed by a second after a few minutes.

The destruction was particularly serious because the tsunamis met with high tides. Major deaths happened in Iwate and Miyagi although fatalities were also measured from Aomori and Hokkaido.


Date 15 June 1896
Time 19:32:30 JST
Injured 22,066
Death  27,000


Biggest Tsunamis in History


6. Nankaido Tsunami

An earthquake of magnitude of 8.4 took place. The sea waves as high up to 25 m struck the Pacific coasts of Kyushyu, Shikoku and Honshin. Osaka was also destroyed. Almost 30,000 buildings were destroyed in the affected areas and about 30,000 were found to be dead. It was measured that roughly a dozen large waves were observed at the time between 3 pm and 4 pm, some of them extending several kilometres inland at Kochi.


Date 28 October 1707
Time 3-4 pm
Injured 26,00
Death  30,000



Biggest Tsunamis in History


5. Enshunada Sea, Japan 

An earthquake of magnitude of 8.3, resulted in tsunami waves along the coasts of Kii, Mikawa, Surugu, Izu and Sagami. The waves were strong sufficient to break a spit, which had earlier split Lake Hamana from the sea. There were data of homes flooding and being cleaned away throughout the area, with a hole of at least 31,000 people dead.


Date 20 September 1498
Time 8:00
Injured 3000
Death  31,000



4. Krakatau Tsunami

The biggest and most destructive volcanic tsunami of the last 250 years occurred on the Aug 26, 1883, eruption of the Krakatoa volcano. This highly energetic explosive eruption made multiple tsunami waves as much as 37 m high, among the greatest tsunami waves observed in the latest historic period.


Date Aug 26, 1883
Time 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Injured 36,000
Death  36,417


Biggest Tsunamis in History


3. Lisbon Tsunami

An earthquake of magnitude of 8.5 took place in a sequence of three large waves to hit different towns along the west coast of Portugal and southern Spain, up to 30 m high, in a few locations. The tsunami waves are as far away as Carlisle Bay, Barbados, where waves rise by 1.5 m. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami took the lives of around 60,000 people in Portugal, Morocco and Spain.


Date 1 November 1755
Time 09:40
Injured 26,000
Death  50,000


Biggest Tsunamis in History



2. North Pacific Coast Tsunami

An upthrust of 20 to 26 ft across 180 kilometres (110 mi) broad seabed at 60 kilometres (37 mi) deep from the east coast of Tōhoku outcomes in a major tsunami that resulted in damage across the Pacific coastline of Japan’s northern islands.

Thousands of lives were gone and whole towns were destroyed. The tsunami generated throughout the Pacific Ocean area gaining the whole Pacific coast of North and South America from Alaska to Chile. The notice was provided and clearance was carried out in various countries bordering the Pacific.

Although the tsunami-damaged various locations, the heights of the waves were small. Chile’s Pacific coast is farthest from Japan distance of about 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) away, was hit by waves of 2 metres (6.6 ft) high, compared with a measured wave height of 38.9 metres (128 ft) at Omoe peninsula, Miyako city, Japan.


Date 11 March 2011
Time 14:46 JST
Injured 6,167
Death  18,500


Biggest Tsunamis in History


1. Sumatra Tsunami

The 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra was estimated to occur at a depth of 30 km. The fault zone that caused the tsunami was roughly 1300 km long, vertically displacing the seafloor by several metres along that length. The ensuing tsunami was as tall as 50 m, reaching 5 km inland near Meubolah, Sumatra.

This tsunami is also the most widely recorded, with nearly one thousand combined tide gauges and eyewitness measurements from around the world reporting a rise in wave height, including places in the US, the UK and Antarctica. An estimated US$10b of damages is attributed to the disaster, with around 230,000 people reported dead.


Date 26 December 2004
Time 7:58 a.m
Injured 225,000
Death  230,000



Biggest Tsunamis in History


Read Also: Earthquakes in India


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Er. Madhu Krishna Poudel
Er. Madhu Krishna Poudel
He is a founder and lead author of Dream Civil International and his civil engineering research articles has been taken as source by world's top news and educational sites like USA Today, Time, The richest, Wikipedia, etc.
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