Major Indonesian Earthquakes of the 20th Century

Extending more than 3,000 miles wide and comprising more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago. This archipelago represents one of the most unusual areas of the world because it encompasses a major juncture of the Earth's tectonic plates. Indonesia lies on the Pacific, Eurasian and Australian tectonic plates, making it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.¹

The devastating megathrust earthquake of December 26th, 2004 is the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1900. The resulting tsunami caused more casualties than any other in recorded history. In total, more than 157,000 people were killed, 26,700 are still missing and more than 1 million were displaced in South Asia and East Africa. At least 110,229 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. Tsunamis killed people in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Tanzania, Seychelles, Bangladesh and Kenya; caused damage in Madagascar and Mauritius and also occurred in Mozambique, South Africa, Australia and Antarctica; crossed into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and was recorded in New Zealand and along the west and east coasts of South and North America.²

Table of Contents

Indonesian Earthquakes Since 1900 With 1,000 or More Deaths
1.20.1917 Bali Deaths: 1,500 Mag: n/a Landslides: Yes
Landslides on Bali caused most of the casualties. Many houses damaged. One source lists casualty toll as 15,000, but that seems high compared to the damage descriptions.
6.25.1926 Papua Deaths: ? Mag: 7.1 Landslides: Yes
The earthquake initially caused 350 deaths; then a few days later a number of people were reportedly killed by landslides from the earthquake, increasing the number of deaths. 5,000 to 9,000 people missing and presumed dead from the landslides. Six villages reported destroyed. Felt strongly in other parts of West Irian and eastern New Guinea.
12.12.1992 Flores Deaths: 2,500 Mag: 7.5 Tsunami/Landslides: Yes
At least 2,200 people killed or missing in the Flores region, including 1,490 at Maumere and 700 on Babi. More than 500 people were injured and 40,000 left homeless. 19 people were killed and 130 houses destroyed on Kalaotoa. Severe damage, with approximately 90 percent of the buildings destroyed at Maumere by the earthquake and tsunami; 50 to 80 percent of the structures on Flores were damaged or destroyed. Damage also occurred on Sumba and Alor. Tsunami run-up of 300 meters with wave heights of 25 meters was reported on Flores along with landslides and ground cracks at several locations around the island. Felt (V) at Larantuka, Flores; (IV) at Waingapu, Sumba and Ujung Pandang, Sulawesi; (II) at Kupang, Timor.
12.24.2004 Sumatra Deaths: 226,898 Mag: 9.1 Tsunami/Volcano: Yes
This is the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and is the largest since the 1964 Prince William Sound, Alaska earthquake. In total, 227,898 people were killed or were missing and presumed dead and about 1.7 million people were displaced by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 14 countries in South Asia and East Africa. (In January 2005, the death toll was 286,000. In April 2005, Indonesia reduced its estimate for the number missing by over 50,000.) The earthquake was felt (IX) at Banda Aceh, (VIII) at Meulaboh and (IV) at Medan, Sumatra and (III-V) in parts of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The tsunami caused more casualties than any other in recorded history and was recorded nearly world-wide on tide gauges in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Seiches were observed in India and the United States. Subsidence and landslides were observed in Sumatra. A mud volcano near Baratang, Andaman Islands became active on December 28 and gas emissions were reported in Arakan, Myanmar.
4.28.2005 Sumatra Deaths: 1,313 Mag: 8.6 Tsunami: Yes
At least 1,000 people killed, 300 injured and 300 buildings destroyed on Nias; 100 people killed, many injured and several buildings damaged on Simeulue; 200 people killed in Kepulauan Banyak; 3 people killed, 40 injured and some damage in the Meulaboh area, Sumatra. A 3 meter tsunami damaged the port and airport on Simeulue. Tsunami runup heights as high as 2 meters were observed on the west coast of Nias and 1 meter at Singkil and Meulaboh, Sumatra. At least 10 people were killed during evacuation of the coast of Sri Lanka.
5.26.2006 Indonesia Deaths: 5,749 Mag: 6.3 Tsunami/Fires: No
At least 5,749 people were killed, 38,568 were injured and as many as 600,000 people were displaced in the Bantul-Yogyakarta area. More than 127,000 houses were destroyed and an additional 451,000 were damaged in the area, with the total loss estimated at approximately 3.1 billion U.S. dollars. Felt (IX) at Bantul and Klaten, (VIII) at Sleman and Yogyakarta, (V) at Surakarta, (IV) at Salatiga and Blitar and (II) at Surabaya. Felt in much of Java. Also felt at Denpasar, Bali.
To download table, please click here for PDF version.
From USGS Earthquake Hazards Program Earthquakes with 1,000 or More Deaths since 1900

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