10 important Earthquakes Captured by (mostly) Security Video Cameras (2005-2012)

This video collection has been prepared by Raghad Rabah

The destructive force of Earthquakes is very apparent, even after the tremors are over. We've all seen images and videos of the aftermath, where nothing is left standing. What we do not always see is the actual quake in action. With the increase in camera phones and video surveillance cameras across the globe, more and more footage is being captured of the actual event.

All the below videos were all captured by some form of video surveillance camera (exceptionally other footage), and are ordered by the magnitude of each earthquake. The images captured are not always in the epicenter areas but often at a relatively big distance, which explains why the shaking is often moderate compared to the number of fatalities. The longer the shaking lasts, the more dangerous it will be.  Almost no destruction on these videos, just the shaking.
Magnitude data : USGS

All videos show one overwhelming bad attitude !
Running away !
Be Earthquake Prepared
The safety belt of your live

Magnitude 9.0 - Japan - March 11, 2011

I have never seen an earthquake as strong as this. The shaking in an Iwaki street (closer to the epicenter than Tokyo) shows how difficult it is to stay right up in the street. This shaking was going on for a very long time (in earthquake terms).

Magnitude 8.8 - Chile - February 27, 2010

Footage from CCTV shows the ground rumbling beneath it in Chile. The camera shakes violently as the world beneath it does. 525 were killed in this earthquake.

Magnitude 7.9 - Chengdu, Sichuan,  China - May 12, 2008

In this video, you can see the security camera shaking violently on a building. Seconds later, everyone in the building evacuates, and goes down the street. The tremors were so violent, that it seems like the first car on the right moves out of its spot. Due to this earthquake, there are 69,195 dead and 374,643 injured.

Magnitude 7.6 - Islamabad, Pakistan - October 8, 2005

This video takes place at the building of LMK Resources. You can see the glass doors shaking violently in the CCTV camera footage, and employees waiting for the automatic glass doors to open. This earthquake resulted in 79,000 dead and 106,000 injured.
Islamabad was located at a distance of 105 km from the epicenter.

Magnitude 7.2 - El Centro, California, USA - April 4, 2010

The security camera catches the building and desks shaking violently for ten seconds before the camera is yanked to the ground, and ceiling tiles fell from the ceiling with every tremor. Four people were killed and 100 were injured.
The epicenter of the earthquake was in Baja California at 65 km from El Centro, location of the video images

Magnitude 7.1 - Van, Turkey - October 23, 2011

In this security camera footage, you can see the city of Van completely black out and people evacuating the buildings within a matter of seconds. Then a building on the right collapses and the whole area is covered in smoke and rubble. 604 were killed on this day and 4,152 were injured.

Magnitude 7.0 - Port-au-Prince, Haiti - January 12, 2010

You can hear the old building collapsing in this video. Walls and columns start falling inside the building, creating heaps of smoke and causing the security cameras to fall to the ground. Luckily, it seems like most of the employees in the building escaped. The earthquake caused 316,000 deaths, 300,000 injuries, and 1,000,000 made homeless (although these numbers are very controversial as scientific studies came out with a far lower number of fatalities). Magnitude Mw 7.0 as reported by USGS
We recommend also reading the comment of ER reader Jeanne Pocius Dorismond in the comment section below.

Magnitude 5.8 - Washington D.C., USA - August 23, 2011

It was a nice summer day, and as usual, the monument had plenty of visitors. At approximately one minute and 30 seconds into the video, the earthquake takes place. From the security camera, you can see the ceiling crumbling from the shaking, and pieces falling on the ground on the surprised visitors. A tall building is probably one of the worst places to be at during an earthquake, seeing as it might lean during the tremble. Only minor injuries were reported, and no deaths. The video was taped in Washington 84 miles from the epicenter.

Magnitude 5.7 - Yunnan, China - June 25, 2012

The security camera records employees running for their lives. Luckily, when they reached the door, the earthquake had stopped. It only lasted for a few seconds. This earthquake killed 4 and injured about 100. Unsure where the shaking videos come from.

Magnitude 6.3 - Christchurch, New Zealand - February 22, 2011

This video shows Christchurch on a normal day, when an earthquake strikes with a 6.3 magnitude, causing the building in the background to collapse partially. The smoke obstructs the view for a bit, and people rush to help whoever is under the rubble. This earthquake killed 185 and injured 1500–2000 people. The video footage comes from Christchurch itself.

Raghad Rabah is with 2M CCTV, a distributor and manufacturer of security cameras and systems.


  1. "but a 5.5 fault rupture is a lot more damaging then a 5,5 aftershock, as the energy is released a lot faster, and then is followed by slow sloshing ground motion."
    All aftershocks are earthquakes, the only difference is that an aftershock happens after a larger earthquake.
    I have experienced enough earthquakes/aftershocks to know that a 5.5 aftershock in two different places can feel quite different, even if they are the same distance away.
    Here in Christchurch, earthquakes near Rolleston seem to be quite rolling, while quakes under the port hills tend to be quite violent. even earthquakes in the same place can be quite different, sometimes quite violent with almost no warning, and other times, very rolling. Sometimes there is a quake with a very loud P wave, then a very small or no S wave at all, while other times, the S wave can hit suddenly with little or no rumble at all. I think the second big quake on the 23rd of December had a P wave that was very similar to the S wave from a typical smaller quake (M 3.5-4), so when the S wave hit, I was quite surprised!
    basically, every quake will be different.

  2. Please change the Haiti video of the National Palace to 7.3 magnitude. I was there, and the magnitude was not "changed" til later. Also note: many more than 300,000 died in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding burroughs. Perhaps in just down-town Port-au-Prince that might be accurate, but there were also many, many more lost in the areas just outside the ville: Delmas, Bourdon , Petion Ville, Martissant, Carrefour, etc. Daily transports of cadavers via dump trucks went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. Noone will ever know the TRUE body count until archeologists excavate the huge, mass graves outside of town in which the bodies of the lost were dumped. Even today, nearly three years later, when buildings are excavated which collapsed in the quake, and the diggers get down to where the bodies have sat for so long unattended, one can once again smell that horrific "scent du morte" that we all lived with for so long. You should also see about getting a trailer for the film documentary "Kenbe La (made by young volunteer teachers and filmmakers Carolyn Armstrong and Stephen Anunson) who documented the loss and rebuilding of the inspiration music programs at the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, which was close to the National Palace. You can read a first-hand account of the quake in the book "Shaken, Not Stirred, a survivor's account of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti" which is available on amazon.com. Please feel free to contact me for more details. Ayiti pa tombe! Ayiti viv!

  3. yes, please change the Christchurch quake to 6.3 (or at least 6.0, which is what the USGS had it as)
    also, here is the original of the first video:
    the stabilization makes it look like the buildings are wobbling and bending when they aren't.

  4. The Christchurch event in this video was a 6.3, this was one of many massive quakes that hit the city
    Sep 4th 2010 - mag 7.1
    Dec 26th 2010 - mag 5.5
    Feb 22nd 2011 - mag 6.3 (video)
    Jun 13th 2011 - mag 6.4
    Jun 23rd 2011 - mag 5.5
    Dec 24th 2011 - mag 5.8
    Dec 24th 2011 - mag 6.0
    This is a list of the 'official fault ruptures', then of course we have had over 10,000 aftershocks.
    Not a lot of people know this, but a 5.5 fault rupture is a lot more damaging then a 5,5 aftershock, as the energy is released a lot faster, and then is followed by slow sloshing ground motion.

    Look at how many different ways the cars rocked in your video, I was also thrown up and down at my location. This quake was a record for acceleration of this size, as 2.2 g's was pulled, which is usually associated with much bigger quakes.
    This was cause by one side of a dormant volcano being thrust upwards, and the ground sitting on the bedrock being bounced as it happened.

    Excellent work btw :o)

    Some other videos

    Sept 4th 2010 - 7.1 magnitude

    December 26th 2010 - 5.5 magnitude

    February 22nd 2011 - 6.3 magnitude (virtually under the city)
    190 dead, 2 total building collapses, hundreds of buildings damaged beyond repair.

    June 13th 2011 - 5.5 magnitude

    June 13th 2011 - 6.4 magnitude
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgBZ_0DcXkY&feature=related (good aftershock video)

    December 24th 2011 - 5.8 and 6.0 magnitude

    • Armand Vervaeck says

      Thanks Simon ... and indeed except for "Van Turkey", the shaking in Christchurch was immense and devastating. The video explains why so many buildings collapsed.