What is the worst earthquake in recorded history and when?

The worst earthquake in recorded history happened on January 23, 1556, in Shansi, China.

The quake killed over 830,000 people. Compare that to some of the other “big ones” throughout history:

Tangshan, China, 1976—officially 255,000 dead; unofficial estimates put it at around 600,000
Aleppo, Syria, 1138-230,000 dead
Xining, China, 1927-200,000 dead
Messina, Italy, 1908-70,000-100,000 dead
Peru, 1970-66,000 dead

The Mississippi quake of 1811 ranks up there as well: The power of the quake was so forceful that it changed the course of the Mississippi River.

However, there’s no record of any human life lost. Maybe next time.