Most significant natural disasters worldwide by death toll up to 2018

The statistic shows the most significant natural disasters by death toll from 1980 to 2018. In 2010, the earthquake in Haiti killed 159,000 people.

Ten deadliest natural disasters worldwide since 1980

According to data published by Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (or Munich Reinsurance Company), the leading global reinsurance group worldwide as of 2017, the tsunami struck in 2004 was the deadliest natural disaster to occur worldwide between the years 1980 and 2016. In that event, an estimated 222,000 people were killed (though other estimates suggest higher death tolls). Second deadliest was the earthquake that affected Haiti in January 2010. There were 159,000 fatalities reported in that event.

The earthquake in Haiti in 2010 was also the deadliest earthquake to occur between 1990 and 2016, according to a ranking of great earthquakes by death toll published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). According to the USGS, the earthquake in Haiti took 316,000 lives, injured 300,000, displaced 1.3 million, destroyed 97,294 and damaged 188,383 houses. Sixty percent of the country’s hospitals and eighty percent of the country’s schools were destroyed. It was the worst earthquake to hit the Caribbean in 200 years, with a magnitude of 7.0 at its epicenter only 25 kilometers away from Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Poor construction practices were to blame for many of the deaths—Haiti’s buildings were not earthquake resistant and were not built according to building code, due to a lack of licensed building professionals. High population density was also to blame for the fatalities. One fourth of the country’s inhabitants lived in the Port-au-Prince area, meaning one half of the country’s population was directly affected by the earthquake.

In response to the earthquake, Haiti received 340,000 pounds of food aid from the United States in 2010. The United States donated 1.17 billion U.S. dollars worth of relief aid, which accounted for 34.7 percent of the total amount donated.

The 10 most significant natural disasters worldwide by death toll from 1980 to 2018

Death toll
Earthquake, tsunami
(Thailand*, December 26, 2004)
220,000
Earthquake
(Haiti, January 12, 2010)
159,000
Cyclone Nargis, storm surge
(Myanmar, May 2-5, 2008)
140,000
Tropical cyclone, storm surge
(Bangladesh, April 29-30, 1991)
139,000
Earthquake
(Pakistan**, October 8, 2005)
88,000
Earthquake
(China, May 12, 2008)
84,000
Heat wave, drought
(Central Europe***, July-August 2003)
70,000
Heat wave
(Russia, July-September 2010)
56,000
Earthquake
(Iran, June 20, 1990)
40,000
Earthquake
(Iran, December 26, 2003)
26,200
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Source

Release date

January 2019

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1980 to 2018

Supplementary notes

* In addition to Thailand also Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives and Malaysia were affected.

** In addition to Pakistan also India and Afghanistan were affected.

*** Affected countries were France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Great Britain.

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Statistics on "Natural Disasters"

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