10. 2001 Gujarat earthquake (Death toll: 19,727)

gujarat earthquake 2001 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2001 Gujarat earthquake of a magnitude of between 7.6 and 7.7 occurred at almost an early morning of January 26, 2011 at 8:46 AM local time and lasted for over two minutes. Almost around 19,727 people were killed and 167,000 were injured. The destruction to homes and property was huge with around 400,000 homes completely turned into rubble. Many historic sites and tourist spots were also destroyed. The total property damage was estimated to be around $5.5 billion. Around 600,000 people became homeless in 21 districts which were affected due to the shock waves that spread for about 700 km. The earthquake happened to have struck on the 51st Republic Day of India.



9. 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami (Death toll: 18,400)

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The recent 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan which literally means “Northeast region Pacific Ocean offshore earthquake” measured around 9.0 magnitude and struck the coast of Japan at around 14:46 local time on March 11, 2011, Friday. The epicenter is said to be about 72 km (41 miles) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku. The tsunami waves as high as 23.6 m (77 ft) were triggered which touched Japan within minutes of the earthquake. Tsunami warnings were issued for Japan and some 20 other countries along the Pacific coast of North and South America. In some countries, the smaller shockwaves reached several hours later. So far around 18,400 deaths have been confirmed with 2,778 injured and around 17,339 people missing as reported by the Japanese National Police Agency. There were tremendous property damages to roads, railways and a dam which collapsed, besides three nuclear reactors had explosions due to hydrogen building up within the outer containment buildings. It is estimated to be the worst earthquake in the history of Japan and the fifth worst according to modern records kept since 1900. The earth itself shifted from its axis by about 10 cm (3.9 in). The losses are approximated at around $14.5 to 34.6 billion, but according to the World Bank, the estimates of the damages are placed around $122 billion and $235 billion. The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared the disaster to be the worst since the end of the World War Two, with the Japanese government estimating the cost to reach about $309 billion. This makes it the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record.



8. 2003 European heat wave (Death toll: 40,000)

2003 European heat wave 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2003 European heat wave was one of the hottest summers in Europe, especially in France in recorded history. There were a serious health crises and droughts in many European countries with a death toll reaching almost 40,000. In France almost 14,802 deaths happened because of this heat wave according to the French National Institute of Health. Extensive forest fires occurred in Portugal with almost five per cent of the countryside and ten per cent of the forests being destroyed due to temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit). In Netherlands, there were about 1,500 heat related deaths with temperature reaching 37.8 degrees Celsius there. A couple of hundreds deaths were reported both in Spain and Germany, where temperatures reached 45.1 and 41 degrees Celsius respectively. In Switzerland, many glaciers were melted in the Alps causing avalanches and flash floods with a new national record of temperature at 41.5 degrees Celsius (106.7 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in Grono, Graubunden. The United Kingdom’s highest recorded temperature was on 10 August, 2003 with 38.5 degrees Celsius (101.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in Kent and Scotland broke its record of the highest temperature in Greycrook at 32.9 degrees Celsius (91.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Thousands of people died all across the UK as reported by the BBC. There occurred a crop shortfall in Southern Europe due to long droughts with European Union’s total production reduced by 10 per cent. But the heat wave won nine gold and silver medals for Hungarian winemakers in Vinalies 2003 International wine contest as the grapes ripened faster due to dehydration making concentrated juice and hence increasing their alcoholic degree.



7. 2003 Iran earthquake (Death toll 43,000)

2003 Iran earthquake 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2003 Bam earthquake struck at early hours of 5:46 AM local time on December 26, 2003, Friday in Bam and surrounding Kerman province of southeastern Iran. The earthquake is estimated to be of 6.6 magnitude according to the United States Geological Survey, causing 26,271 deaths and some 30,000 injured. But some estimates also approximate the death toll to be around 43,000. The devastation was heightened by the use of mud brick as a standard medium of construction which did not comply with the earthquake regulations set in 1989 in Iran. Around 44 countries sent assistance and 60 made the offer. There was also a consideration to change the capital from Tehran for the fear of an earthquake.



6. 2010 Russian heat wave (Death toll: 56,000)

2010 Russian heat wave 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer, also known as the 2010 Russian heat wave, had an effect on most parts of the United States, Canada Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Indochina, South Korea, Japan, China, North Africa and generally the whole of the European continent in the months from May till August with June being the fourth consecutive warmest month on record globally. The whole period from April till June was also recorded to be the warmest for land areas in the Northern Hemisphere. This extreme weather caused forest fire in China with a worst drought in 60 years in Yunnan province. Around 56,000 people died all across the mentioned places because of this calamity. The biggest ice shelf detachment in 48 years also took place in the Arctic Ocean which connects Greenland and Nares Strait to the ocean. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the heat waves, droughts and floodings fall within the predictions based on global warming for the 21st century, but some climatologists disagree saying that such weathers would not have occurred had the atmospheric carbon dioxide been kept at pre-industrial levels.



5. 2008 Sichuan earthquake (Death toll: 69,197)

2008 Sichuan earthquake 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which is also sometimes called Great Sichuan Earthquake, measured at 8.0 magnitude and struck at 14:28 local time on May 12, 2008 in Sichuan province of China that killed around 69,197 people according to the official figures. It left some 374,176 people injured, 18,222 were listed as missing, and some 4.8 million people became homeless, where the numbers could even go as high as 11 million according to some reports. It is said to be the deadliest earthquake for China since the 1976 Tanghan earthquake, where around 240,000 people died, and is said to be the 21 deadliest in world recorded history. It had an epicenter at Wenchuan County in the province and was felt in both Beijing and Shanghai as well as in the neighboring counties with the buildings shaking with the tremor. Many new causalities were caused even months after the initial earthquake due to the aftershocks with magnitude of up to 6. The Chinese government announced to spend around $146.5 billion over the next three years in reconstruction and damage control measures.



4. 2005 Kashmir earthquake (Death toll: 86,000)

2005 Kashmir earthquake 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2005 Kashmir Earthquake struck in the morning at 8:52 local time on October 8, 2005 in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, commonly known as Azad Kashmir, which affected the nearby area of Gilgit-Baltistan and most parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It was similar in magnitude to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1935 Quetta earthquake, and the 2001 Gujarat earthquake at 7.8 according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. According to the Pakistani government’s official death toll, around 75,000 people died, but the international donors estimate the deaths to be around 86,000. Various reports have suggested that complete towns and villages were destroyed in Northern Pakistan with severe damages to the surrounding areas. The tremors were also felt in the nearby countries of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, western China, and also the Indian-administered Kashmir, where around 1,400 people died. The city of Karachi experienced a minor aftershock of magnitude 4.6, with a total of 147 aftershocks registered all across Pakistan on the first day after the initial quake hit. Almost 28 of these aftershocks occurred with greater magnitudes than the original quake, with one of them being of 6.2 magnitude. The earthquake was a consequence of the rising of the Himalayas, with the measurements from satellites showing that mountain parts directly above the epicenter have risen by a few meters and caused around 978 aftershocks as of October 27 of that year. Around $6.2 billion were given in aid from all over the world, and five crossing points on the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan were also opened so that the humanitarian and medical relief can be supplied. But still the affected areas have not been restored to their pre-earthquake status in the region.



3. 2008 Cyclone Nargis (Death toll: 146,000)

2008 Cyclone Nargis 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

Cyclone Nargis was a strong tropical cyclone that became the worst natural disaster for Myanmar on May 2, 2008 which led to around 146,000 deaths and some 55,000 were reported missing. It is said that the death toll must have been higher but it was not reported by the Burmese government in fear of a political fallout. The damages were estimated to have cost around $10 billion. It is the deadliest named cyclone in the North Indian Ocean Basin and the second deadliest in recorded history after the 1975 Typhoon Nina. The name of the cyclone “Nargis” is an Urdu word with Persian roots which means daffodil. Not much aid has been received to recover from the damages caused due to a resistance from the Burmese military junta.



2. 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Death toll: 230,000)

2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, scientifically known as Sumatra-Adaman earthquake, occurred on December 26, 2004, Sunday at 00:58 UTC, which had an epicenter off the western cost of Sumatra, Indonesia. The tsunami that took place has various names like 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, and Boxing Day Tsunami. The earthquake triggered a number of tsunamis along many coasts connected with the Indian Ocean. It killed almost 230,000 people in 14 countries, with the hardest hit country being Indonesia, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. The earthquake was felt at the same time at places like Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and the Maldives, which was followed by the tsunami. The energy which was released due to the earthquake and the following tsunami was estimated to be equal to over 1502 times that of Hiroshima atomic bombs, but less than that of Tsar Bomba, which is the largest nuclear weapon ever to be detonated. It is said to be one of the deadliest disasters in recorded history. It made waves as high as 30 meters (100 feet) and had a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3. It is the third largest earthquake that was ever recorded on a seismograph and had the longest duration of 8 to 10 minutes of faulting that was ever observed. It caused the earth to vibrate as much as 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) and triggered earthquakes as far reaching as Alaska. Altogether, the international community donated more than $14 billion for humanitarian efforts.



1. 2010 Haiti earthquake (Death toll: 316,000)

2010 Haiti earthquake 10 Worst Natural Disasters of 21st Century

The 2010 Haiti earthquake struck on January 12, 2010 at 16:53 local time with a magnitude of 7.0 and had an epicenter near the town of Leogane, which is almost 25 km (16 miles) west of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Till January 24, there were almost 52 recorded aftershocks which measured up to 4.5 magnitude and some were even greater. According to estimates, some 3 million people were affected by the disaster, with a death toll of around 316,000 people and 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 approximately became homeless. Around 30,000 commercial buildings are said to have been destroyed completely. The disaster management became a serious problem during this natural crisis as delays were caused in distributing aid and even violence is reported to have been observed. The communication also became as problem since Haitians only language is Haitian Creole, because of which a machine translation program was quickly written to translate English and their local language. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere ranking at 149th out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index. Haitian Minister of Education, Joel Jean-Pierre, reported that the country’s whole education system has collapsed with almost 1,300 schools and three main universities in Port-au-Prince destroyed. Some of the aid and rescue workers also died. Almost above 90 per cent of rubble remains uncleared till date. Around $1.1 billion were donated for the relief efforts, but only two per cent of the money has been given so far.



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