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


DateJanuary 18, 1586
Time23:00 Local Time
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.


DateApril 24, 1771
Time8 AM
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.


Date13 August 1868
Time21:30 UTC
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.


Date15 June 1896
Time19:32:30 JST
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.


Date28 October 1707
Time3-4 pm
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.


Date20 September 1498
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.


DateAug 26, 1883
Time7:00 pm and 8:00 pm
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.


Date1 November 1755
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.


Date11 March 2011
Time14:46 JST
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.


Date26 December 2004
Time7:58 a.m
Death 230,000



Biggest Tsunamis in History


Read Also: Earthquakes in India


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