The earthquake in Valdivia was the most intense in history

May 22, 1960 was marked by a natural disaster in the history of the world, the earthquake in Valdivia. Sixty years after that day, it is recalled that it was a Sunday afternoon when Valdivia in Chile was hit by the worst earthquake in history. The residents of the city heard a loud noise from the basement.

1960 earthquake in Valdivia

Features of the earthquake in Valdivia, the largest in the history of the world

At 9.5 on the Ritchert scale, it became a major catastrophe in a few moments. It only took 14 minutes. But it was more than enough to cause 2,000 deaths and injure millions of people. Its intensity was 200,000 times stronger than the Hiroshima bomb dropped at the end of World War II. It destroyed all the streets and buildings in the city, none of them stopped.

The earthquake in Valdivia destroyed all roads
Photo by the AFP agency: https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/terremoto-potente-historia-chile-1960.html

According to some people who lived the moment, everything was balanced, even the mountains. The stones rose up to half a meter from the ground.

In addition to Valdivia, 40 other Chilean cities were affected in various ways. The coastal cities were hardest hit. Another consequence is that it has changed the surface of the country and its geographical features forever. The quake affected up to 35 kilometers deep in the ground.

To date, studies have been conducted to look for the earlier causes and signs that were certainly generated. They indicate that the earthquake occurred as a result of a rupture between the Nazca tectonic plate and South America.

The replicas were repeated every half hour and lasted one minute. This contributed to the destruction of 90% of the buildings in the city and made people sleep in the city parks. Tents were set up to protect people from low temperatures.

The result was a severe tsunami

Half an hour after the earthquake, a feared tsunami hit the Chilean coast. With waves of up to 10 meters, which affected cities from Chiloé to Concepción, it covered 1000 kilometers of coast. Some cities like Puerto Saavedra or Queule were completely destroyed.

The tsunami swept across the Pacific and also hit Hawaii, the Philippines, New Zealand, Japan and the hardest hit Easter Island. Archaeologically, it suffered a great loss. The waves destroyed a ceremonial center and some moais that were restored in the 1990s.

Destruction on Easter Island by the tsunami. Valdivia earthquake
Photo by Lorenzo Dominguez from Rapa Nui – Easter Island: https://imaginaisladepascua.com/que-ver/sitios-arqueologicos/ahu-tongariki/

The force of the waves destroyed the entire ceremony center and dragged some statues a few meters away.

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