How high can tsunami waves get

The worst tsunami disasters

1628 BC: Eastern Mediterranean

A volcanic eruption on Santorini triggered a tsunami tidal wave up to 60 meters high, which destroyed coastal settlements throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The catastrophe could have led to the end of the Minoan civilization.

1755: Lisbon

The Portuguese capital Lisbon was two-thirds destroyed by an earthquake on November 1, 1755. Tens of thousands of people were killed. A huge wave of water crossed the Atlantic. Madeira Island was hit by 15 meter high waves.

1883: Lake Java

The island of Krakatau between Sumatra and Java was blown apart by a volcanic eruption. The giant waves that followed claimed 36,000 lives.

1933: Japan

One of four tsunami disasters (1293, 1703, 1896) on the Sanriku coast in Japan. In total, around 160,000 people fell victim to the four tsunamis.

1958: Alaska

In a landslide in the Gulf of Alaska, 90 million tons of rock fell into the sea. On the other side of the bay, the water rose 520 meters above sea level.

1960: Pacific

2000 people died on May 22, 1960 after an earthquake in Chile. It took the tsunami up to 24 hours to cross the Pacific.

1976: Philippines

Severe earthquake in the Philippines. The subsequent six-meter-high tidal wave washed entire villages into the sea. 5000 people were killed.

1998: Pacific

A flood disaster struck Papua New Guinea on July 17th. 2000 victims were to be mourned.

2004: Indian Ocean

The worst tsunami disaster of modern times occurred on December 26, 2004 at 1.58 a.m. After an undersea quake, the seabed off Sumatra rose by up to ten meters within a very short time over a distance of around 1200 kilometers.

This created several tidal waves that ultimately led to devastating tsunamis on the coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Sea and South Asia. A total of around 227,000 people were killed in the disaster.

2011: Japan

On March 11, 2011, the sea floor shook off the coast of Japan. The epicenter was about 370 kilometers northeast of the capital Tokyo and triggered a tsunami wave. The Tōhoku quake is the strongest earthquake on record.

In total, more than 20,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and the tidal wave. The tidal wave hit the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, which is located directly on the coast. Core meltdowns occurred in three out of six reactors.

2018: Indonesia

On September 28, 2018, a strong seaquake struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. A little later, a tidal wave several meters high hit the island's coast. The 350,000 inhabitants of the city of Palu, most of which were destroyed, were particularly hard hit. More than 4,000 people died as a result of the tsunami wave.