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On March 27, 1964, at 5:36 pm ‘megathrust’ earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.2, struck Alaska, and killed 131 people. Alaska had low population density otherwise the number of casualties could have been extremely high. It was a disastrous event and caused deadly tsunami, massive landslides and damage as far away as Canada and Hawaii. In the aftermath of this disaster, it highlighted the lack of scientific understanding of the natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. Moreover, it reflected a growing need to develop mechanism for dealing with such disasters to reduce their impact on the community and infrastructure. Considerable research undertaken in the aftermath of the 1964 earthquake led to the confirmation of the theory of plate tectonics and enabled scientists to understand the earthquake processes.
In the U.S., California is quite prone to earthquakes and has experienced the deadliest one. In 1906, an earthquake of the 7.8 magnitude on Richter scale struck California and it caused death of 3,000 persons. (Berman) In May 1960 Chile, the southern neighbour of the U.S., was shaken with the 9.5 magnitude earthquake, largest in the recorded history in the world.
But, the earthquake in Alaska with a magnitude of 9.2 was the second largest in the world and the largest in the U.S. history....