Natural disasters in the world from 2005 to 2020.

Major natural disasters of the 21st century

October 8 is the International Day for Natural Disasters and Catastrophes. The day was established in 1989 by the UN to draw the attention of states to the dangers of natural disasters and attempts to reduce their consequences. But, alas, over the past 30 years natural disasters in the world have not become less. On the contrary, according to the International Federation of Red Cross Society, the number of natural disasters annually increases approximately by 20%.

The number of victims of earthquakes, cyclones, floods and droughts is growing rapidly due to the urbanization of the world. On average, 184 people a day die as a result of natural disasters. The most frequent natural disasters are weather-related: floods and storms.

The largest losses due to natural disasters were to the United States ($944.8 billion), China ($492.2 billion), Japan ($376.3 billion), and India ($79.5 billion). In European countries, floods, storms and earthquakes cost France ($48.3 billion), Germany ($57.9 billion) and Italy ($56.6 billion) the most.

In 2019, the most significant natural disasters in Russia were flooding in Irkutsk Oblast and forest fires in Siberia.

The largest natural disasters of the 21st century

2003. Heat in Europe

In June and August 2003 there was a terrible heat wave in Europe which killed 35 thousand people, most of them the French. Fish populations in the Mediterranean Sea, grape and wheat crops were also damaged.

2004. Tsunami in the Indian Ocean

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 caught not only local residents in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Somalia, Myanmar and Malaysia, but also tourists from around the world arriving for the New Year vacations. Waves more than fifteen meters high left a catastrophic devastation and took the lives of from 225,000 to 300,000 people.

2005. Hurricane Katrina in the United States

Hurricane Katrina damaged and destroyed 1.2 million homes and flooded the city of New Orleans. More than 1,800 people died and 600,000 were displaced from their homes. Only seven months later, the flooded areas were finally dried up and opened to residents, but so far the infrastructure has not been fully restored.

2005. Pakistan Earthquake

The earthquake in Kashmir, in Pakistan, occurred on October 8 – as if in mockery of the International Day for the Elimination of Natural Disasters. It was Asia’s worst earthquake in 100 years, with entire villages disappearing from the face of the earth and 79,000 people killed.

2008. Sichuan earthquake

The 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province killed more than 69,000 people, one of the largest death tolls ever recorded. More than 4.8 million people were left on the street.

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2008. Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar

The deadly cyclone Nargis killed 138,000 people. Myanmar’s military government was aware of the impending cyclone but did nothing, and then refused to accept UN humanitarian aid for another week.

2010, January. Earthquake in Haiti

The strongest earthquake in the Republic of Haiti practically devastated the capital Port-au-Prince. Fifteen tremors with magnitudes from 5 to 7 killed 223,000 people. Criminals escaped from damaged prisons, the city’s water supply was destroyed, corpses were dumped in the streets and looters rampaged in the city.

2010, April. Volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Thousands of people stranded in airports around the world, including Moscow’s Sheremetyevo, because of an eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. The volcanic cloud covered half of Europe and didn’t dissipate for 15 days. During that time more than 100,000 flights worldwide were cancelled. The weather forecasters were powerless: it was almost impossible to predict the volcanic eruption, moreover none of them could give an exact date when the cloud would dissipate. Professionals predicted the possibility that the volcano would not calm down for several more months. This meant that people would have to survive without air travel. In the end, it all worked out. Insurers suffered the most, with flight delays costing them more than $1 billion.

Guatemala. Photo by Casa Presidencial | Reuters

Photo by Casa Presidencial | Reuters

2010, May-June. Tropical storm in Guatemala

Hurricane Agatha in Central America and tropical downpours caused huge sinkholes reaching thirty meters deep and twenty in diameter in Guatemala’s capital. The sinkhole in the photo engulfed a garment factory, which closed just an hour before it went underground.

Fires in 2010. Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova | AFP

Photo by Natalya Kolesnikova | AFP

2010, July-September. Fires in Russia

June saw a 130-year temperature record broken in Russia’s capital – temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius. Air conditioners and fans disappeared from stores, and soon masks and respirators as the peat bog fires raging near Moscow brought smog to the capital. Visibility on the roads dropped to 50-100 meters. Mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases increased, especially among the elderly. The fires could not be put out until the end of September, during which time 127 settlements were destroyed. Fires were also raging in other regions of the country. Crop damage exceeded 13 million hectares, 30% of the total area sown in Russia.

After the freezing rain. Photo by Sarah Cervantes

Photo by Sarah Cervantes.

2010, December. Freezing rain in Russia.

In late December, freezing rain hit Moscow, which came as a surprise to weather forecasters and municipal services. The capital turned into an ice rink, power lines in the Moscow region broke under the weight of the ice crust. There were about 150 flights canceled, with passengers at Domodedovo terminals particularly affected, who had to sit in unheated and unlit airport for more than a day.

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2011. Tsunami in Japan

An earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered an accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. The economic damage was $243.9 billion. In 2019, the situation threatened the world again: the issue of radioactive water dumping into the Pacific Ocean came up.

2015. Fires in California

Forest fires in California in September 2015 left several thousand people homeless. Twenty-eight thousand hectares were engulfed in flames, and the northern part of the state was declared a disaster area.

Frost and snow in Germany. Photo by Ibrahim Rifath.

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath

2017. Frosts in Europe

In January 2017 European residents experienced unusual frosts: in Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Germany the temperature dropped to -14 and below. The snowstorms halted air travel and caused problems with the power supply. For the first time in 60 years the Danube River was frozen, and the shores of the Black Sea in Bulgaria were covered with ice. At least 60 people were victims of the frost.

2018. Tsunami in Indonesia.

A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.5 caused a tsunami that washed away many of the island’s buildings, claiming more than 1,400 lives and leaving some 16,000 people homeless. Hospitals and power lines were destroyed. Amazingly, the local weather service issued a tsunami warning but canceled it an hour later, and people ashore were caught off guard.

2018. Forest fires in Greece

Greece had its worst wildfires in 200 years, killing 126 people.

Forest fires. Photo by Matt Howard

Photo Matt Howard

2019. Forest fires in Siberia

Forest fires began in July 2019 in hard-to-reach areas of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Buryatia, Trans-Baikal and Yakutia. In two and a half months, more than three million hectares of forest have been covered by fire. The fires caused smog over major Siberian cities. Emergencies were declared in five subjects of the Russian Federation. According to the official data there were no victims or dead from forest fires. Scientific head of the Hydrometeorological Center Roman Wilfand said that the large-scale forest fires in Siberia in 2019 accelerated the unprecedented melting of ice in the Arctic, where 90% of the Greenland ice sheet began melting this year, which was under a layer of ash. As of Oct. 8, 2019, fires in Siberia continue.

Earth’s wrath: 7 of the biggest natural disasters of the last decade

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The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupting.

Today the world’s attention is focused on Chile, where the massive eruption of the Calbuco volcano has begun. It’s time to look back at the 7 biggest natural disasters of recent years so we know what the future may hold. Nature is stepping on people the way people used to step on nature.

Le Havre sights.

Calbuco volcano eruption. Chile

Mount Calbuco in Chile is quite an active volcano. However, its last eruption took place more than forty years ago – in 1972, and even then lasted only one hour. But on April 22, 2015, things took a turn for the worse. Calbuco literally exploded, beginning to eject volcanic ash several kilometers high.

The biggest natural disasters of the past decade

On the Internet you can find a huge number of videos about this amazingly beautiful spectacle. But it is pleasant to enjoy the view only through a computer, while being thousands of kilometers away from the scene. In reality, be near Calbuco is scary and deadly.

The eruption of Mount Calbuco in Chile

The Chilean government has decided to evacuate all people within a radius of 20 kilometers from the volcano. And this is only the first measure. It is not yet known how long the eruption will last and what the real damage will be. But it will definitely be several billion dollars.

Earthquake in Haiti

On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a disaster of unprecedented proportions. There were several earth tremors, the main one with a magnitude 7. As a result, almost the entire country was in ruins. Even the presidential palace, one of the most majestic and capital buildings in Haiti, was destroyed.

Earthquake in Haiti in 2010

According to official data, during and after the earthquake more than 222,000 people died and 311,000 people were injured to varying degrees. At the same time, millions of Haitians were left homeless.

Earthquake in Haiti in 2010

This is not to say that magnitude 7 is unprecedented in the history of seismic observation. The scale of destruction was so enormous due to the high level of deterioration of the infrastructure in Haiti, as well as the extremely low quality of absolutely all buildings. In addition, the local population did not rush to provide first aid to the victims and to participate in the removal of debris and reconstruction of the country.

Earthquake in Haiti in 2010

As a result, an international military contingent was sent to Haiti, which took over the control of the state in the initial period after the earthquake, when the traditional authorities were paralyzed and utterly corrupted.

Tsunami in the Pacific

Until December 26, 2004, the vast majority of the Earth’s population knew about tsunamis only from textbooks and disaster movies. However, that day will remain forever in the memory of Mankind because of the huge wave that covered the coasts of dozens of states in the Indian Ocean.

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2004 Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean

It began with a large earthquake of magnitude 9.1-9.3 just north of the island of Sumatra. It caused a giant wave of height up to 15 meters, which spread to all sides of the ocean and wiped off the face of the earth hundreds of settlements and world-famous seaside resorts.

2004 Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean

The tsunami struck the coastal areas in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Maldives, Seychelles, Oman and other states on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Statisticians have counted more than 300 thousand dead in this catastrophe. At the same time bodies of many could not be found – the wave swept them into the open ocean.

2004 Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean

The consequences of this catastrophe are enormous. In many places, the infrastructure was never fully rebuilt after the tsunami of 2004.

2004 Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean

Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption

The hard-to-pronounce Icelandic name Eyjafjallajökull became one of the most popular words in 2010. All thanks to a volcanic eruption in the mountain range with that name.

Paradoxically, but during this eruption was not killed a single person. But this natural disaster seriously disrupted business life around the world, especially in Europe. After all, a huge amount of volcanic ash thrown into the sky from the mouth of Eyjafjallajökull, completely paralyzed air traffic in the Old World. The natural disaster destabilized the lives of millions of people in Europe itself, as well as in North America.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupting.

Thousands of flights, both passenger and cargo, were cancelled. Daily losses to airlines at the time amounted to more than $200 million.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupting.

Earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province

As with the Haiti earthquake, the huge number of casualties following a similar disaster in China’s Sichuan province there on May 12, 2008 is due to a low level of capital construction.

Earthquake in China's Sichuan province in 2008

The main quake with magnitude 8 and smaller shocks after it killed more than 69 thousand people in Sichuan and left 18 thousand missing, while 288 thousand people were injured.

Earthquake in China's Sichuan province in 2008

At the same time, the government of the People’s Republic of China severely limited international assistance in the disaster area, it tried to solve the problem with its own hands. According to experts, the Chinese thus wanted to hide the real scale of what had happened.

Earthquake in China's Sichuan province in 2008

Chinese authorities even imprisoned the most famous contemporary Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, for several months for publishing the real data on the deaths and destruction, as well as articles about the corruption that led to such huge numbers of casualties.

Hurricane Katrina

However, the scale of the consequences of a natural disaster does not always depend directly on the quality of construction in a particular region, or on the presence or absence of corruption there. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the southeastern coast of the United States in the Gulf of Mexico in late August 2005, is a case in point.

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The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina. The rising water level broke the levee protecting New Orleans in several places and about 80 percent of the city was under water. At this point, entire neighborhoods were destroyed, and infrastructure, interchanges, and utilities were destroyed.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

People who refused to evacuate or didn’t have time to evacuate were saved on rooftops. The main gathering place for people was the famous Superhome stadium. But it also became a trap, because it was impossible to get out of it.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

During the hurricane, 1,836 people died and more than a million were rendered homeless. The damage from the disaster was estimated at $125 billion. At the same time, New Orleans for ten years has not been able to return to normal life – the city’s population is still about a third less than the level of 2005.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

 The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

Earthquake in Japan 2011

The worst thing about natural disasters happens, however, when natural factors are superimposed on man-made ones. The 2011 earthquake in Japan is a sad example. The world almost doesn’t remember the earthquakes and their direct consequences, but the terrible name of Fukushima is still on everyone’s lips.

Japan earthquake of 2011

On March 11, 2011 in the Pacific Ocean to the east of the island of Honshu, there was a tremor with magnitude 9-9.1, which caused a huge tsunami wave up to 7 meters high. It struck Japan, washing away many coastal objects and travelling tens of kilometers inland.

Japan earthquake of 2011

After the earthquake and tsunami fires broke out in different parts of Japan, and infrastructure, including industrial infrastructure, was destroyed. In all, nearly 16 thousand people died as a result of the disaster, and the economic losses amounted to nearly 309 billion dollars.

Japan earthquake of 2011

But that wasn’t the worst of it either. The world knows about the 2011 disaster in Japan, primarily because of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant that occurred as a result of the tsunami wave that hit it.

More than four years have passed since the accident, but the operation at the nuclear power plant is still ongoing. And the settlements closest to it have been permanently resettled. This is how Japan got its own Exclusion Zone.

Fire at Fukushima nuclear power plant

A large-scale natural disaster is one of the options for the death of our civilization. We have collected the 10 most serious threats to humanity, which could lead to its extinction.

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