Shaanxi Earthquake: How the Deadliest Day in Human History Took Lives of 830,000 People

The deadliest earthquake ever recorded is at the center of the deadliest day in human history. On the 23rd of January 1556 which was a Thursday, so many people lost their lives than on any day ever recorded

 In 1556, the world population is calculated to have been below 500 million people. Still, even as the world has almost 8 billion people, no day has taken the lives of many as that Thursday in January when central China was hit by Shaanxi Earthquake.

The world has witnessed a great upgrade in military weaponry, including nuclear weapons that have the ability to wipe out a whole city. Still, humanity has yet to surpass the wrath of mother nature.

Rescuers search for earthquake survivors

(Photo : Getty Images)

The Shaanxi Earthquake

The Shaanxi Earthquake led to the deaths of about 830 thousand individuals in China. The earthquake cleared the three cities nearest to the epicenter in Shaanxi province. It prompted mudslides, ground fissures, landslides, and fires that took the lives of people over central and eastern China’s 520-mile swath of land.

Ready for Destruction

As per Climate Policy Watcher, in the mid-1500s a lot of people in central China built their houses in loess caves. This loess is a fine-grained soil that wears away from northern China’s Gobi desert. Loess is a building material that is easy to manipulate, but its structures doesn’t have a chance to be unaffected by the tremors of a strong earthquake.

Also Read: 6.4-Magnitude Earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province Kills Three, Leaves 28 Injured

The Deadliest Day in Human History

The day this tragedy struck was a winter day in central China. A typical January Thursday became the deadliest catastrophe ever recorded in the world.

As per History, the epicenter was situated in the Wei River Valley between Weinan, Huaxian, and Huayin city. All the buildings in Huaxian collapsed. The quake killed an estimation of about 60% of the population in regions nearest to the epicenter.

Ground fissures that were about 60-feet-deep opened up, mudslides and landslides engulfed people, fires raged. As per History Collection, a translation from China’s records goes to the extent of saying that rivers and mountains changed locations, and new hills and valleys developed out of nowhere. All the construction in certain places unexpectedly collapsed.

Magnitude of the Quake

For immense devastation to happen in the area, It would not take the strongest earthquake in world history to cause. In fact, as per History, the Shaanxi earthquake that happened in1556 wasn’t anywhere close, with 8.0-8.3 as an estimated magnitude.

China deals with aftermath of earthquake

(Photo : Getty Images)

Why was China not Ready for the Quake?

Since the Hongdong Earthquake that happened in 1303, China in more than 250 years had not witnessed an earthquake that has the magnitude of the Shaanxi Earthquake.

A long time before the Ming dynasty gained power, the Mongol dynasty, also referred to as the Yuan dynasty, was ruling China. As per Britannica, Kublai Khan’s grandson, Temur, was the ruler of China during 1303, when the Hongdong Earthquake occurred on the 25th of September that year.

After 250 years, when the Shaanxi Earthquake happened, maybe the legends of powerful earthquakes were considered in the past.

Related Article: 5 Deadliest and Most Destructive Natural Disasters in History

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