While death tolls are often disputed, the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake are the worst two earthquakes of the 21st century, with each taking over 200,000 lives, leaving millions injured or homeless, and causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.
Sadly, earthquakes, like other natural disasters such as tornadoes and famines, are natural, often occur without warning, and leave no apologies. Many times caused by tectonic plate movement, earthquakes cannot be prevented and are too often deadly for those affected.
What are the worst earthquakes of the 21st century? Sadly, this list will give you that answer... for now.
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake - 9.1-9.3
Causing massive destruction in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, the Maldives, and the Eastern coast of Africa, the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake is the deadliest earthquake of the 21st century. The quake itself, an estimated 9.1-9.3 magnitude, struck on Sunday, December 26, 2004, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, but it was the resulting tsunami that proved to be the deadliest.
Combining the figures from the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and the Indonesian Tsunami, which had waves of nearly 100 feet high, over 230,000 lives were lost. Numerous others were injured and billions of dollars in damages were reported. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami is the deadliest tsunami in history.In addition to being the worst earthquake of the century, the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake also ranks as the fifth deadliest earthquake among the worst earthquakes in history and the third strongest earthquake ever in terms of magnitude.
2011 Tohoku Earthquake - 9.0
The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, also called the Great East Japan Earthquake, is one of the most recent on the list of the worst earthquakes of the century, occurring on Friday, March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time. The massive 9.0-magnitude tremor, which had a depth of 32 kilometers, was one of the top five earthquakes in terms of magnitude.
This earthquake not only caused a powerful tsunami with waves up to 133 feet tall, but also moved the island of Honshu a reported eight feet east. As a result of both, over 15,700 people were killed, another 5,700 inured, and over 4,600 went missing. Property damage, which also threatened the Fukushima I and II Nuclear Power Plants, was estimated around $180 billion.
2005 Sumatra Earthquake - 8.7
Hitting Indonesia with yet another deadly quake, the 2005 Sumatra Earthquake shook the area on March 28, 2005. The 8.7-magnitude shake had a depth of 30 kilometers and was centered near off the northern coast of Sumatra. Similar to the 2004 tragedy, though much smaller, a tsunami followed the earthquake and brought the island nation waves close to 10 feet tall.The area affected by the earthquake was still very much in the process of rebuilding from the massive 2004 earthquake and saw additional damage from this tremor. Another 1,300 people, many from the island of Nias, were killed and millions of dollars in additional property damage occurred.
2015 Chile Earthquake - 8.3
On September 16, 2015, Chile was struck by a magnitude 8.3 earthquake. At least five people were killed and one million were evacuated from affected areas. The quake triggered tsunami alerts and coastal evacuations, reaching as far north as areas of California, and resulted in mass flooding in Concon, Chile and other areas.
The epicenter was reported to have been approximately 34 miles west of Illapel, at a depth of 20.5 miles.Sources: CNN, Telegraph