The Pacific Rim, the body of land surrounding the Pacific Ocean from the west coasts of North and South America to the east coasts of China and Japan, is one of the most volatile regions in the world for earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Since 1975, several stunning earthquakes around the Pacific Rim have resulted in tremendous devastation and loss of life – some smaller, but some much greater, than the unfolding crisis in Japan from the March 11 temblor.
A magnitude-7.9 earthquake on Aug. 17, 1976, off the west coast of Mindanao in the Philippines generated a tsunami in the Moro Gulf. Together the two events killed between 5,000 and 8,000 people. The majority of those deaths occurred following the tsunami, because people failed to move to higher ground after the earthquake.
It was slightly more deadly than the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the island of Java in southeastern Indonesia on May 26, 2006, which led to 5,749 deaths, 38,000 injuries, and 600,000 displaced people. Damages reached an estimated $3.1 billion and about 127,000 houses were destroyed.
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