2010 onwards we saw increasingly more severe instances of natural calamities. Earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, landslides and drought plagued earth the last ten years. Most scientists believe that this was due to nature as well as the climate change wrought due to humanity’s inconsideration for the environment. In the year 2010 alone, a quarter of a million people worldwide died due to natural disasters, more than those killed by terrorism in the past 40 years. Let’s take a look at the worst natural disasters of 2010s and see the damage done to life and property.
Worst natural disasters of 2010s
2010 was the year when the world reeled under several natural disasters. The weather was weird and deadly, extreme and we experienced earthquakes and intense droughts. One of the reasons for widespread destruction was that urban and rural areas were more populated than the previous decades, and the quality of construction was quite poor. The people who live in poverty were the most adversely affected. Every time the ground shook, or a cyclone hit, more people lost their lives and property.
In January, 220,000 people were killed in one of the most terrible earthquakes ever, in Haiti’s Port-au-Prince. The people mainly lived in poorly constructed shanties and therefore, the area had a higher mortality rate. In February of the same year, an earthquake which was 500 times more intense than the Haiti earthquake 2010 struck Chile, in an area which was much less populated and with stronger buildings. The damage was less and 1000 people lost their lives.
Scientists claim that Earth is experiencing weird weather due to global warming. In the summer of 2010, there was a heat wave in Russia and flooding in the country of Pakistan, which together killed 17,000 people.
US and China experienced blizzards and extreme heat spells in the same year. The freeze was so extreme in southern USA that the cold blooded iguanas fell off the trees. Los Angeles experienced 113 F, the hottest day ever in recorded history. In May, Pakistan had the hottest day of 129 degrees F, which was at that time the hottest temperature recorded in inhabited location.
An Icelandic volcano disrupted air travel for five days, affecting 7 million people. And other volcanoes in the world, in Guatemala, Philippines, Congo, Ecuador and Indonesia were scary experiences for the local population.
Tsunami in Japan
2011 did not see any respite from the extreme weather conditions. On March 11, the world saw one of the worst environmental disasters in the last 10 years. First, an earthquake of 8.8 magnitude struck the country for five minutes, and perhaps among the five strongest quakes ever to occur on Earth.
The epicenter was 6.0 miles underwater and created a tsunami almost 10 meters high which flooded the ocean waters five kms inland. It is still not known the extent of radiation caused by the meltdowns of the nuclear reactors of the Fukushima power plant. And there was untold damage to human and animal lives and property.
Other natural disasters which were quite destructive and violent in 2011 was the Joplin Tornado in Missouri, which is considered to be the deadliest tornado ever to hit the US on record. Washi or Sendong in the Philippines was a storm which caused flooding in the southern and central Philippines. Many people became homeless almost overnight.
In 2011, Eastern Africa too experienced a drought in which around 30,000 children died, making it one of the worst environmental disasters in the last 10 years.
Cyclone Nilam struck south India and Sri Lanka. It devastated huge areas and seawater reached almost 100 yards inland. There were 75 deaths and the financial loss estimated was 56.7 million dollars.
In this year, the drought was in North America as well as Africa. The livestock deaths and the crop failures was one of the most expensive natural calamity in the US. The drought in Africa led to failed crops, increasing the price of food and placing it beyond the reach of people.
Earthquakes in Afghanistan and Iran killed 306 people. And earthquakes in Asia killed 113 people, injuring 100 and cut off water, transportation, communication. The Chinese earthquake killed 81 and 821 were injured.
Hurricane Sandy struck the US and in other parts of the world, there was massive flooding. Beijing, Karsnodor Krai in Russia, Brahmaputra river in India, Ireland, Great Britain, Nigeria, Romania, Fiji, Nepal and Pakistan reeled from floods. Wildfires burnt up 52,000 acres in Oklahoma and in Colorado, wildfires burnt down 200,000 acres.
Typhoon Haiyan with wind speed of 235 mph is considered to the one of the worst recent natural disasters. It ravaged central Philippines in Nov 8 2013, killing 6,000 people. 3.6 million people were displaced as complete cities were wiped out. Infrastructure like water, sanitation and water systems, telecommunications were damaged. But just before Haiyan struck, the region was hard hit by an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude, killing many people and displacing about 350,000 people. The earthquake destroyed 73,000 buildings.
In 2013 again, another typhoon wreaked havoc. This time in India, where Typhoon Phailin struck the northeastern part of India, in Odisha. It was the strongest cyclone to strike in the past 14 years and affected over 13 million people. The 150 mph winds brought about widespread devastation.
Mexico faced landslides and flooding affecting over 200,000 people. In Acapulco, more than five feet mud overtook the vehicles and destroyed houses.
Solomon Islands were overwhelmed by flash floods which wiped out infrastructure and destroyed the livelihood of millions. 22 people were killed in the Guadalcanal Plains and Honaira city. Farming communities lost arable land to the silt of the Ngalibiu River.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir in India saw the worst floods in 50 years. Thousands of people were cut off from emergency help and approx 1,300 people lost their lives.
Elsewhere, in China, 2015 was the year when earthquakes struck Zhaotong in western Yunan four times killing 600 people and displaced 230,000 people. 268 people schools and 155,000 houses were destroyed.
This earthquake was one which will be etched in the memory of people worldwide. It destroyed almost 900,000 buildings reducing them to rubble. 8,800 people died, and 1 million children could not attend school as the buildings were all destroyed. The whole country was in dire straits and had to begin from scratch to rebuild businesses, homes and buildings.
Floods in Chennai were unprecedented in November of 2015. It was the worst flooding in 100 years. The people had to carry their belongings chest deep in water and the settlements near the rivers were completely washed away by the flood. The flood affected neighboring Andhra Pradesh too, as the flood destroyed 100,000 acres of farmland.
The abnormal weather pattern was apparent in the drought in Ethiopia. The drought in the country for several seasons caused crops to fail, death of livestock and more. 350,000 children suffer from malnutrition and 700,000 children were malnourished.
Three days of continuous rain in central part of Sri Lanka caused two major landslides. The country was ravaged by floods and landslides and almost half a million people had to leave their homes and flee.
On the other hand, Sierra Leone had a fresh scare of Ebola, which had killed more than 11,300 people in two years. The region had to be vigilant that the dreaded disease did not show up again.
An earthquake hit Mexico City in September of 2017, killing 225 people. The earthquake came on the heels of another one which killed 96 people and 2.5 million people required help. Heavy rainfall as well as flooding sparked off a terrible mudslide in Sierra Leone, killing 600 people and affecting 6,000 people. Peru’s floods were caused by the unusual heating up of the waters of the Pacific which killed 150 people, affected 1 million and repairs cost 9 billion dollars. Avalanches killed hundreds in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Wildfires and floods were some of the natural disasters in 2018. Japan and India experienced torrential rains for days on end. The rain which fell on the mountains of Japan funneled into the cities and caused the deaths of 200 people. In the Shikoku island, 15 inches rain fell in only two hours.
Floods devastated Kerala in India, and most people lost their lives due to the landslides of the aftermath of the heavy rain. The state officials claimed it was the worst flood in the past 1000 years.
Indonesia experienced an earthquake and a 20 ft tsunami which caused major devastation. It left 330,000 citizens homeless and destitute.
The end of the 2010s saw many terrible examples of extreme weather. Many cities had to face unheard of abnormal flood levels, as well as hurricanes and earthquakes. Typhoon Hagibis killed 86 in Japan, and scores of people had to be evacuated. Typhoon Lekima struck China and a natural dam collapsed. In India, heat wave conditions reached record highs of about 51 degrees Celsius. And in Mozambique, the Cyclone Idai, which is now recognized as the worst storm to occur in Southern Hemisphere, killed 602 and almost completely annihilated 90% of Beira, Mozambique’s biggest port.