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What causes an earthquake?

Buildings collapse after an earthquake strikes.Buildings collapse after an earthquake strikes.An earthquake is the trembling or shaking of the ground. It is caused by the sudden movement of the rocks in the Earth’s crust. This happens when the edge of one tectonic plate slides beneath or alongside another. The two plates sometimes lock together for a while, before the pressure becomes too great and the rocks suddenly snap apart. Shock waves travel out in all directions, causing the ground to shake.


Earthquake damage

Fires break out following an earthquakeFires break out following an earthquakeA road cracks open after an earthquakeA road cracks open after an earthquakeIt is mostly in towns and cities where earthquakes cause large loss of life. The sudden violent shaking of the ground may result in the collapse of buildings and bridges, roads splitting apart, pipes bursting and cables breaking. Landslides, fire and flooding also cause great damage.

Shock waves

Across the world there are about 100,000 earthquakes each year. Japan alone has about 5000.

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