In terms of size, the Japanese tsunami ranks among the largest in recent history, due to the massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake that caused it. In terms of effects, the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean is still likely the most devastating that has been recorded; waves rising over 30 feet were reported and over 200,000 people were killed. Still, this does not diminish what a terrible tragedy has just befallen Japan. Hundreds have already been reported dead and more details are certain to come in the near future.
If the earthquake is an 8.9 as being reported, it is the fifth largest earthquake to be recorded. The second link below compares this earthquake to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the Haiti Earthquake.
According to the first link below, the Japan tsunami is small compared to the world’s 5 biggest tsunamis – of which number 5 is the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, caused by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake (remember, the magnitudes are logarithmic). The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami wave was taller than 80 feet whereas the Japan tsunami is being reported as high as 30 feet.
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