10 deadliest quakes

In Asia, the most disaster-prone part of the world, earthquakes are the deadliest natural hazard. Seven of the 10 most earthquake-vulnerable countries in terms of human exposure - China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran - are in the region, according to the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

"Most of our Asian cities were not planned. When they were built, there was no way to know they were on fault-lines," N.M.S.I. Arambepola, director of Urban Disaster Risk Management at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, told IRIN. "So now we are telling people, 'Here's the way to reduce the impact of a disaster so that the city will be prepared.' "

Asia's 10 most recent and deadliest quakes, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), were:


A total of 227,898 people died when a 9.1 earthquake shook Sumatra, Indonesia, on 26 December 2004. A subsequent tsunami spread the impact of the earthquake to 14 Asian and East African countries and 1.7 million people. Just three months later another quake, measuring 8.6, killed 1,000 people on 28 March 2005 in Northern Sumatra.

5,749 people died in a 6.3 earthquake on 27 May 2006 in Java. It was Indonesia's third major disaster in less than two years. And 1,117 people died on 30 September 2009 in Southern Sumatra after a 7.5 earthquake exposed the area's lack of resilient structures. 


87,587 people died or went missing after an earthquake measuring 7.9 struck Eastern Sichuan on 12 May 2008. Five million were left homeless and 374,177 were injured. 

2,698 people died or went missing on 13 April 2010 after a 6.9 earthquake hit Qinghai. The biggest quake in world history happened in Shaanxi, where 830,000 people died after an 8.0 earthquake on 1 January 1556.


86,000 people died in Northern Pakistan, just 95km northeast of Islamabad, the capital, after a 7.6 earthquake struck on 8 October 2005. 


31,000 people died in a 6.6 earthquake in Bam, in the southeast, on 26 December 2003 - the largest in the region in 2,000 years. Reports estimated that 70 percent of the city was devastated. Rebuilding was a slow process. 


20,085 people died in Bhuj on 26 January 2001; the quake measured 7.6 on the Richter scale. The Indian government estimated that 15.9 million people, nearly half the population of Gujarat Province, were affected by the disaster.


17,118 people died in a 7.6 earthquake in Izmit, Western Turkey, on 17 August 1999.  The earthquake also caused considerable damage in Istanbul, the country’s largest city, about 70 km away from the earthquake’s epicenter. The USGS likens Turkey's North Anatolian fault to the San Andreas in California.