Earthquakes with a Richter scale reading of more than 5.5 have caused great loss of life and property, and quakes with a 7.0 reading almost always cause massive destruction.
A number of quakes that took place during this century have measured over 8.0 on the Richter scale. The two most powerful measured 8.9 on the scale, but scientists think that the 1755 earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal, may have been even more powerful. This quake shook lakes in Norway, 1,700 miles away!
In terms of destruction, the worst earthquake of all time took place in China in 1556, killing more than 800,000 people. The worst recent quake shook Japan in 1923, destroying the cities of Tokyo and Yokohoma and killing more than 140,000 people. This quake measured 8.2 on the Richter scale.
The 1923 Japan quake was so strong that it shook radishes right out of the ground!