18. The Classical World’s Most Fatal Earthquake
The Roman world was rocked by a powerful earthquake early in the morning of July 21st, 365 AD, that killed up to half a million people. Epicenter on Crete, the earthquake registered at least 8 on the Richter Scale. It shook the island and brought about widespread devastation, and was the most powerful seismic upheaval that struck the region in recorded history. In one gigantic push from below, coral reefs surrounding Crete erupted 33 feet upwards, clear of the water. Geologists estimate that the island as a whole was lifted by as much as 30 feet.
The tremors caused a powerful tsunami that wrecked much of the Cretan coast, and raced across the Mediterranean, wreaking havoc around its shores. The tsunami struck Greece to the north, Cyprus to the east, reached south to devastate coastal communities along the North African coast in Alexandria, Egypt’s Nile Delta and Libya and raced westward to cause damage in Sicily and in far off Spain. The wall of water was high enough and powerful enough that it carried ships and hurled them up to two miles inland.