Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Where the earth shakes

Seven tectonic plates make up our earth's surface. Where they meet, chances for an earthquake are the highest. In Nepal, the tectonic collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate caused a dramatic quake on April 25, 2015. It's one of the seven places on earth most prone to earthquakes.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Bhaktapur, Nepal (before)

In the valley of Kathmandu, seven cultural World Heritage sites draw Nepalese and international visitors alike. Here, people are celebrating the Gaijatra Festival at the historic square in Bhaktapur in August 2014.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Bhaktapur, Nepal (after)

Volunteer workers try to rescue people from beneath the ruins of collapsed temples - they have nothing but their bare hands to dig with. The 2015 Nepalese earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Japanese coast (now)

Japan is known as an earthquake specialist, building its skyscrapers on moving foundations that can absorb the earth's shocks during a quake. It's also known for its nuclear power plants. In 2010, the Takahama power plant (pictured above, on the other side of the island from Fukushima) was one of 55, producing a third of the country's energy needs.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Japanese coast (then)

Japan is more than 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) from Nepal. But in March 2011, it suffered a similarly disastrous earthquake, causing one of the worst tsunamis Japan has ever seen. More than 18,000 people were declared dead, and meltdowns of nuclear reactors in Fukushima leaked radioactive material into the surrounding area - more than was released in the Chernobyl catastrophe.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean (now)

The Andaman Islands, which are part of India, are close to the intersection of the Indian and Eurasian continental plates. Due to the high tectonic tensions, earthquakes are common here.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean (then)

The worst of these earthquakes in recent history hit on December 26, 2004. It was the third-strongest quake ever measured. Tsunamis following the quake killed 230,000 people along the coast.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Yunnan, China (before)

The Chinese province of Yunnan is known for its breathtaking landscape, its rice terraces - and its earthquake risk. As Yunnan is located on the border between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, tectonic plate tensions can cause severe earthquakes.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Yunnan, China (after)

In August 2014, more than 400 people were killed and about 100,000 left homeless by a 6.5-magnitude quake. Strong earthquakes are common in China. In 2008, 70,000 people died after a quake hit in the province of Sichuan.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

L'Aquila, Italy (before)

Although Europe is not really known for earthquakes, they are more common than one might think. In Italy, the African plate comes up against the European continent, and the whole country is situated up against the plate boundary.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

L'Aquila, Italy (after)

In 2009, a quake killed 300 people and left more than 10,000 homeless in the Italian town of L'Aquila. When seven scientists were convicted of manslaughter for failing to advise of earthquake threats, this raised international critique: Despite the most modern scientific methods, earthquakes cannot be predicted.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

San Francisco, United States (now)

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco's most prominent landmark. But it is under threat: Scientists say that soon, the worst earthquake in more than 100 years could hit the city, threatening its inhabitants. Culprit here is the San Andreas fault, where the North American plate meets the Pacific plate, just off the Californian coast.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

San Francisco, United States (then)

In 1906, San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and resulting urban fires. To date, the San Francisco quake is said to be one of the deadliest natural disasters in US history - 3,000 to 6,000 people were killed.

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Valdivia, Chile (now)

Today, nothing in idyllic south-Chilean Valdivia reminds visitors of the earthquake danger. That doesn't make it less real: Just off the Chilean coast, the South American plate hits the Nazca plate. When tensions rise, the earth shakes. As a consequence, tsunamis form.

Flash-Galerie Erdbeben Chile 1960

Earthquakes: The most endangered regions

Valdivia, Chile (then)

At a magnitude of 9.5, it was the strongest earthquake ever measured: In 1960, the quake destroyed large parts of southern Chile's infrastructure. At least 1,700 people died, while millions were made homeless. The next "big bang" is likely to take place in Chile's northern region. The earth there, scientists say, has been suspiciously quiet for years.

After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the death toll is still on the rise. What other regions in the world also face the threat of strong quakes, and what consequences could they have?