The Deadliest Earthquakes In The 21st Century

By Oishimaya Sen Nag on July 12 2018 in Environment

Tents set up in Haiti for the victims of the devastating 2011 earthquake.

5. Iran, 2003

At around 5:26 AM Iran Standard Time, a violent earthquake struck southeastern Iran’s Kerman province. The city of Bam, a popular tourist destination in the Bam County, was the worst affected. The earthquake claimed the lives of at least 31,000 people and left over 30,000 injured. In the early hours when the quake struck, many people were fast asleep and were crushed while sleeping. 70% of Bam’s houses were completely razed down while more suffered structural defects. Nearly 75,600 people were rendered homeless. The fact that many houses in Bam were built in the traditional mud-brick style and were not built to withstand earthquakes made the situation worse. The earthquake also disrupted electricity and water supplies in the city. 29 aftershocks also followed. The education system of Bam was also severely affected as over 10,000 students and a large section of teachers was killed in the disaster.

The US offered direct humanitarian assistance to Iran following the quake. Iran, whose relations with the US prior to the quake was not very conducive, first declined and then accepted the offer. Thus, the relations between the two countries thawed to some extent after the quake.

4. Pakistan, 2005

On the ill-fated day of October 8, 2005, a deadly earthquake caused wanton death and destruction in Pakistan and also affected parts of the neighboring countries of India, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and China. The Azad Kashmir territory of Pakistan and north Pakistan were the worst affected by the earthquake which was centered near the Pakistani city of Muzaffarabad. Over 70% of all casualties were reported in the city. About 15% of the total casualties happened in the Pakistani district of Bagh. The entire lifeline of the region including emergency services was completely paralyzed due to the effects of the quake. According to the official reports, over 80,361 people died due to the earthquake but other estimates reveal that the death toll was even higher. More than 3.5 million people lost their homes and about 69,000 suffered injuries. Animals also died in thousands and 250,000 farm animals were lost due to infrastructure collapses. In north Pakistan, many villages and towns were completely wiped out. Many schoolchildren were also killed during the disaster. A series of strong aftershocks also soon followed. Satellite data later exhibited that the mountain parts above the epicenter of the earthquake had risen by a few meters. This disaster thus proved that the Himalayas are still rising.

3. China, 2008

On May 12, 2008, at 14:28:01 China Standard Time, China trembled under the influence of the Great Sichuan earthquake. The epicenter of the earthquake was based 80 km to the west-northwest of the Sichuan province’s provincial capital of Chengdu. The earthquake was strong enough to sway buildings in Shanghai and Beijing, both hundreds of kilometers away from the epicenter of the quake. Neighboring counties of China also felt the tremors.

The Sichuan earthquake claimed the lives of nearly 87,587 people and left about 375,000 injured. The earthquake affected nearly 45.5 million lives in China’s various provinces and regions. More than 5 million people were left without a home. A huge loss of economy was incurred as damages due to loss of property ran over $86 billion. Over 5 million buildings collapsed. The Great Sichuan earthquake was the second deadliest earthquake to hit China and the 21st deadliest of all time.

2. Indian Ocean, 2004

One of the worst natural catastrophes in recorded history, the undersea megathrust earthquake or the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck on December 26 at 00:58:53 UTC. The epicenter of the quake was off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The earthquake triggered deadly tsunamis that devastated coastal areas along the Indian Ocean. More than 227,898 people lost their lives in this disaster. Waves 100 feet high swept through the coastal areas ravaging coastal communities and engulfing people, animals, and property, and all that came in the way of the massive waves. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were the worst affected by the earthquake. Large parts of the planet vibrated on this day and other earthquakes were triggered as far away as Alaska. The earthquake displaced about 1.7 million people in the affected areas.

1. Haiti, 2010

The 2010 Haiti earthquake is the deadliest earthquake of the 21st century to date. The earthquake struck Haiti at around 16:53 Haiti time on January 12, 2010. The epicenter of the quake was near the Haitian town of Léogâne, about 25 km away from the capital city of the country, Port-au-Prince. The disaster claimed the lives of 100,000 to 316,000 people and affected nearly 3 million people. Thousands of residences and commercial buildings were leveled to the ground in the disaster resulting in great property loss. Several landmark buildings in the region like the National Assembly building, Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace were either severely damaged or destroyed. Even the UN Stabilization Mission building in Port-au-Prince collapsed, killing many including Hédi Annabi, the chief of the mission. Following the disaster, many countries helped Haiti by providing humanitarian aid. Rescue efforts were greatly impacted by damaged infrastructure facilities.

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