Connect with us


Mapped: The Deadliest Earthquakes of the 21st Century



A map of the epicenters of the nine deadliest earthquakes by death toll since the start of the 21st century.

Mapped: The Deadliest Earthquakes of the 21st Century

On September 8, 2023, a powerful earthquake rocked Morocco. With its epicenter located in the Atlas Mountains and structural damage being done to the historical city center of Marrakesh, the 6.8-magnitude quake will likely have a death toll in the thousands.

With these recent events in mind, we use data from the National Centers for Environment Information (NCES) to map out the epicenters of the nine deadliest earthquakes in the 21st century so far, by their total death toll. This includes casualties from secondary events—like tsunamis—after each earthquake.

Earthquakes By Death Toll (2000–2023)

We delve into some of the deadliest earthquakes in recent history.

Haiti, 2010

On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the capital Port-au-Prince. The earthquake’s shallow epicenter—only six miles beneath the surface—caused most of the force to be directed close to where people lived. By the end of the month, after 52 aftershocks rocked the island, the disaster had claimed more than 300,000 lives—the deadliest earthquake in the 21st century thus far.

The extensive destruction led to global support, but slow recovery sparked criticism of government inaction. In 2017, the UN reported 2.5 million Haitians still required aid.

Indonesia, 2004

December 26th, 2004: A 9.1 earthquake occurred off the coast of Indonesia, deep under the ocean. It was the strongest earthquake in this century and the third-most powerful since 1900.

It triggered the worst tsunami recorded in history, causing 230,000 deaths mainly in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India.

Here’s a list of the deadliest earthquakes, by death toll, in the 21st century.

RankDateLocationTotal DeathsMagnitude
1Jan, 2010🇭🇹 Haiti316,0007.0
2Dec, 2004🇮🇩 Indonesia227,8999.1
3May, 2008🇨🇳 China87,6527.9
4Oct, 2005🇵🇰 Pakistan76,2137.6
5Feb, 2023🇹🇷 Türkiye56,6977.8
6Dec, 2003🇮🇷 Iran31,0006.6
7Jan, 2001🇮🇳 India20,0057.6
8March, 2011🇯🇵 Japan18,4289.1
9April, 2015🇳🇵 Nepal8,9577.8
10May, 2006🇮🇩 Indonesia5,7496.3
11Sep, 2018🇮🇩 Indonesia4,3407.5
12May, 2003🇩🇿 Algeria2,2876.8
13Aug, 2021🇭🇹 Haiti2,2487.2
14April, 2010🇨🇳 China2,2206.9
15March, 2005🇮🇩 Indonesia1,3138.6
16Sep, 2009🇮🇩 Indonesia1,1177.5
17June, 2022🇦🇫 Afghanistan1,0395.9
18March, 2002🇦🇫 Afghanistan1,0006.1
19Jan, 2001🇸🇻 El Salvador8447.7
20Sep, 2013🇵🇰 Pakistan8257.7
21July, 2006🇮🇩 Indonesia8027.7
22April, 2016🇪🇨 Ecuador6637.8
23Nov, 2022🇮🇩 Indonesia6355.6
24Nov, 2017🇮🇷 Iran6307.3
25Feb, 2004🇲🇦 Morocco6286.4
26Aug, 2014🇨🇳 China6156.2
27Feb, 2005🇮🇷 Iran6126.4
28Oct, 2011🇹🇷 Turkey6047.1
29Aug, 2018🇮🇩 Indonesia5606.9
30Feb, 2010🇨🇱 Chile5588.8
31Aug, 2007🇵🇪 Peru5148.0
32Oct, 2010🇮🇩 Indonesia4317.8
33Oct, 2015🇦🇫 Afghanistan3997.5
34Sep, 2017🇲🇽 Mexico3697.1
35Feb, 2001🇸🇻 El Salvador3156.6
36April, 2009🇮🇹 Italy3096.3
37Aug, 2012🇮🇷 Iran3066.5
38Aug, 2016🇮🇹 Italy2996.2
39June, 2002🇮🇷 Iran2616.5
40Feb, 2003🇨🇳 China2616.3
41Oct, 2013🇵🇭 Philippines2227.1
42Oct, 2008🇵🇰 Pakistan2156.4
43April, 2013🇨🇳 China1966.6
44Sep, 2009🇼🇸 Samoa Islands1928.1
45Feb, 2011🇳🇿 New Zealand1856.1
46May, 2003🇹🇷 Turkey1776.4
47March, 2002🇦🇫 Afghanistan1667.4
48Feb, 2018🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea1457.5
49Oct, 2020🇬🇷 Greece1187.0
50Sep, 2022🇨🇳 China1186.6
51May, 2015🇳🇵 Nepal1177.3
52Feb, 2016🇹🇼 Taiwan1176.4
53Sep, 2011🇮🇳 India1116.9
54Jan, 2021🇮🇩 Indonesia1056.2
55March, 2011🇲🇲 Myanmar1046.8
56Dec, 2016🇮🇩 Indonesia1046.5
57June, 2000🇮🇩 Indonesia1037.9
58June, 2001🇵🇪 Peru1038.4

Türkiye and Syria, 2023

February 6, 2023: Two earthquakes, also with shallow epicenters (5 miles deep), hit the border region between Türkiye and Syria, causing widespread damage in both countries and claiming more than 50,000 lives. Bad weather conditions—including snow, ice, and winter storms—inhibited search and rescue efforts.

In Syria, international sanctions prevented foreign charities and families from sending money to the country, which led to the U.S. suspending the sanctions for 180 days.

Japan, 2011

March 11, 2011: Another undersea earthquake—also 9.1 magnitude—occurred off the coast of Japan, triggering a deadly tsunami which flattened parts of the country 30 minutes later.

The high waves also damaged Fukushima’s Nuclear Plant’s emergency diesel generators leading to reactor meltdowns, and a release of radioactive waste. In total, 18,000 people lost their lives from the earthquake and tsunami.

How Does Earthquake Data Help With Disaster Preparedness?

Thanks to the study of plate tectonics, scientists know where earthquakes usually occur, even if they don’t know when precisely. For example countries along the “Ring of Fire”—a hotbed of earthquake and volcanic activity—witness hundreds of earthquakes a year, though most are not strong enough to cause any damage.

However, with deadly earthquakes, other factors, including epicenter depth, location near populous areas, and proximity to secondary events—tsunamis—can play a far bigger role in death tolls.

Disaster preparedness and swift government action can mitigate many secondary casualties as seen comparing the vastly different death tolls of the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis.

Click for Comments


Mapped: 15 Countries with the Highest Smoking Rates

Since the 1950s, many countries have tried to discourage tobacco use and bring down smoking rates. Here’s where they haven’t worked.



A cropped map with the 15 countries with the highest smoking rates in the world.

Mapped: 15 Countries with the Highest Smoking Rates

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

It was not until 1950 when the link between smoking and lung cancer was proven, though physicians as far back as the late 19th century had identified it as a potential cause.

Since then, many countries have discouraged tobacco products in an attempt to reduce smoking rates, and consequent health effects.

We visualize the countries with the highest rates of tobacco use among their population aged 15 and older. Data is sourced from the World Health Organization, and is current up to 2022.

Which Countries Smoke the Most?

In Nauru, nearly half of the population aged 15+ uses a tobacco product, the highest in the world. The island also has a high obesity rate, and nearly one-third of the population suffers from diabetes, due to poor nutritional variety in the food supply.

Here’s a list of smoking rates by country, ranked from highest to lowest.

RankCountryTobacco use in
those aged 15+
1🇳🇷 Nauru48%
2🇲🇲 Myanmar44%
3🇰🇮 Kiribati40%
4🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea40%
5🇧🇬 Bulgaria40%
6🇷🇸 Serbia40%
7🇹🇱 Timor-Leste39%
8🇮🇩 Indonesia38%
9🇭🇷 Croatia37%
10🇸🇧 Solomon Islands37%
11🇦🇩 Andorra36%
12🇧🇦 Bosnia &
13🇨🇾 Cyprus36%
14🇯🇴 Jordan36%
15🇫🇷 France35%
N/A🌍 World23%

Note: Figures rounded. “Tobacco use” includes smoke and smokeless products.

Meanwhile, countries in the Balkan also see a high incidence of tobacco use, bucking the general European trend. Entrenched cultural norms, lax laws, and inexpensive cigarettes are some of the most commonly identified causes.

On the other hand, tobacco use is a lot lower in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa.

In the U.S., fewer than one in four adults smoke. Canada is even lower at 12% of the population. But some African countries (Nigeria and Ghana) are all the way down in the single-digits, at 3%.

Interestingly, men smoke more than women in nearly every country in the world.

Continue Reading
Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma