Content Next



These unusual slides show earthquake damage to school and university buildings around the world. They graphically illustrate the potential danger to our schools, and to the welfare of our children, that results from major earthquakes. The slides range from Algeria, where a collapsed school roof is held up only by students' desks; to Anchorage, Alaska, where an elementary school structure has split in half; to California and other areas, where school buildings have sustained damage to walls, roofs, and chimneys.

Interestingly, all the United States earthquakes depicted in this set of slides occurred either on a holiday or before or after school hours, except the 1935 tremor in Helena, Montana, which occurred at 11:35 a.m. It undoubtedly would have caused casualties had the schools not been closed days earlier by Helena city officials because of a damaging foreshock. Students in Algeria, the People's Republic of China, Armenia, and other stricken countries were not so fortunate.

This set of slides represents 17 destructive earthquakes that occurred in 9 countries, and covers more than a century (from 1886 to 1988). Two of the tremors, both of which occurred in the United States, were magnitude 8+ on the Richter Scale, and four were magnitude 7-7.9. The events represented by the slides presented here claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.

In the following descriptions of earthquakes the location is only approximate. The damage is in millions of U.S. dollars.