#4 – Tangshan Earthquake
Death Toll: Up to 655,000 people
The Great Tangshan earthquake occurred in July 1976 and is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The initial earthquake that measured 8 on the Richter Scale hit in the early hours of the morning and lasted just 14-16 seconds. It was followed by a major 7.1 magnitude aftershock some 16 hours later, increasing the death toll further.
The epicentre of the earthquake was in Tangshan in Hebei, an industrial city with approximately one million inhabitants and was generated by the 25-mile-long Tangshan Fault, which runs near the city and ruptured due to tectonic forces caused by the Amurian Plate sliding past the Eurasian Plate.
Interestingly, the Chinese government who were going through political turmoil at the time, insisted on self-reliance and refused to accept international aid from the UN.