The decade’s deadliest natural disasters

Earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones took hundreds of thousands of lives

Topics: Typhoon Haiyan, Natural Disasters, disaster relief, tsunami, Earthquakes, cyclones,

How do you quantify a natural disaster on the scale of something like Typhoon Haiyan, which is being called one of the most powerful storms ever recorded?

Initial fears of the storm’s death toll exceeding 10,000 have been revised down, and the Philippine president now believes the lives lost number somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500. So far, 1,774 bodies have been counted, but as authorities have not yet been able to reach about 39 cities and towns, it may be some time yet before a final figure is released.

To put this one aspect of the disaster in perspective, the Associated Press compiled a list of natural disasters that, in the past decade alone, each claimed tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of lives — more, even, than the early estimates for Haiyan. Recovery, in many of the affected areas, is still ongoing:



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    AP/Kyodo News

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    March 11, 2011: A magnitude-9.0 earthquake off northeastern Japan causes a tsunami that sweeps onto the coast. About 19,000 people are killed and three nuclear reactors melt at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

    AP/Kyodo News

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    Residents carry out household belongings from their ruined homes in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Saturday, March 19, 2011, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the area.

    AP/Koji Ueda

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    A fishing boat washed ashore by the March 11, 2011 tsunami is lit by the light of sunrise in the deserted port area in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Monday, March. 11, 2013, as two-year passed since the disaster.

    AP/Alexandre Meneghini

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    Jan. 12, 2010: A 7.0 earthquake devastates Haiti's capital and surrounding cities, killing 314,000 people.

    AP/Dieu Nalio Chery

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    In this picture taken Jan. 8, 2013, a cross memorializing the victims of the 2010 earthquake who are buried at the spot in mass graves is silhouetted against the setting sun in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

    Qing Ding/Shutterstock

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    May 12, 2008: A 7.9 temblor in China's Sichuan province kills 87,000 people. A disproportionate number of them were children killed when their shoddily built schools collapsed.

    NASA

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    May 2, 2008: The storm surge from Cyclone Nargis washes up densely populated areas around the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar, washing away whole farming villages. Around 138,000 people died.

    A. S. Zain/Shutterstock

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    Oct. 8, 2005: A 7.6 earthquake kills about 80,000 people in northwestern Pakistan and Kashmir.

    US Navy

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    Dec. 26, 2004: A 9.1 earthquake off western Indonesia triggers a tsunami in the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

    M R/Shutterstock

    The decade's deadliest natural disasters

    Dec. 26, 2003: A 6.6 earthquake flattens the historic city of Bam in southeastern Iran, and some 26,000 people are killed. (Pictured: Reconstruction in the city in March 2013)

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Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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