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2003 Marked Deadly Year for Earthquakes; Worst Since 1990

January 13, 2004
Tuesday - 12:45 am

2003 closed as the deadliest year for earthquakes since 1990, and almost 20 times more fatal than 2002; As of January 7th 32,819 earthquake deaths worldwide have been confirmed by the American Red Cross, but many more have been reported in December's Bam earthquake in Iran. In 2002, 1711 people died in quakes around the world. In 1990, 51,916 people were killed in various seismic events.

The "strong" magnitude 6.6 that hit Bam, Iran on Dec. 26th was the cause of the most deaths, with the preliminary death toll of 30,000 and expected to rise. Japan's magnitude 8.3 earthquake that rattled the Hokkaido region on Sept. 25th rang in as the largest temblor in the world for 2003, and the only "great" quake. California experienced the strongest U.S. quake, a magnitude 6.5, on Dec. 22nd in San Simeon, 40 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo, Calif. Two deaths occurred due to a building collapse in nearby Paso Robles. Shallow but powerful, the earthquake uplifted the Santa Lucia Mountains and triggered a vigorous aftershock sequence.

The USGS locates about 50 earthquakes each day or almost 25,000 a year. On average, there are 18 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0 to 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or higher) each year worldwide. Several million earthquakes occur in the world each year, but many go undetected because they occur in remote areas or have very small magnitudes. In the U.S., earthquakes pose significant risk to 75 million Americans in 39 States.

Learn more and see earthquakes moments after they occur by visiting



Source of News Release:

United States Geological Society
Web Site


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