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Earthquakes that killed thousands in Syria and Turkey among the world's deadliest of the century

Syrians feel "forgotten yet again" after quake
Syrians feel "forgotten yet again" following devastating earthquake 00:56

A series of large and devastating earthquakes have left parts of the Middle East in shambles. Eastern Turkey and neighboring Syria were shaken by the deadliest earthquake incident to occur worldwide in nearly 20 years and, according to the latest numbers, among one of the deadliest of the past century. 

As of Feb. 16, 10 days after the initial 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the region, officials say more than 41,000 people have died. That earthquake was only the start of the growing disaster, with another 5.7-magnitude quake hitting the following day and hundreds of aftershocks in between. Photos and videos from people on the ground show widespread rubble from collapsed buildings and countless people being rescued from crushing debris. 

The earthquakes are the deadliest to occur in the world since a massive 2005 quake in Pakistan killed more than 70,000 people.

In 2011, nearly 20,000 people were killed after a 9.0 quake off of Japan's coast triggered a tsunami. And the year before that, a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti devastated the capital city, Port-au-Prince, with a death toll estimated at 200,000 or more.

Here is a look at other deadly earthquakes to strike throughout the 21st century.

Residents retrieve an injured girl from the rubble of a collapsed building following an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, in the countryside of Syria's northwestern city of Afrin in the rebel-held part of Aleppo province, on February 6, 2023. RAMI AL SAYED/AFP via Getty Images

Syria and Turkey – at least 41,000 people 

Tens of thousands of people have been killed or injured across portions of Syria and Turkey since the earthquake struck, with many trapped in buildings that collapsed into heaps of rubble. The countries were already known for having the "largest refugee population in the world," according to the U.N. refugee agency, as Turkey serves as a host to more than 3.5 million refugees seeking safety from Syria's civil war. 

Ten Turkish provinces have been impacted by the temblors, and at least 1.7 million of the people residing there are Syrian refugees. In Syria, there are more than 6.8 million people internally displaced, as well as 60,000 Palestinian refugees. 

Men Searching For Corpses After The 8 October 2005 Earthquake.
Men Searching For Corpses After The 8 October 2005 Earthquake, Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pakistan – At least 86,000 people

The Oct. 8, 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, is one of the worst natural disasters to hit South Asia. The 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed at least 86,000 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and injured more than 69,000. In some spots, entire villages were decimated, and millions were left homeless. An intense aftershock hit Pakistan more than a week later, on Oct. 17. 

A May 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province triggered landslides and destroyed buildings.  David J Wald/USGS

China – At least 69,000 people

On the afternoon of May 12, 2008, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck China's Sichuan Province. The disaster was further amplified by "catastrophic" landslides that were triggered by the quake, according to USGS. Among those killed were more than 19,000 schoolchildren, most of whom died when their elementary and secondary schools leveled during the disaster. 

At least 69,227 people died in the incident, according to the Asian Disaster Reduction Center, and nearly 18,000 people are listed as missing. Nearly 375,000 more people were injured. 

Major Earthquake Hits Haiti
People wander the streets in front of the remains of a boarding school in the downtown area January 13, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Frederic Dupoux / Getty Images

Haiti – Around 220,000 people 

One of the worst natural disasters of the century took place on Jan. 12, 2010, when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. About 220,000 people were killed, according to the United Nations, although other estimates have put the death toll at 222,570. In the aftermath, Haiti's then-presidential administration said that 316,000 people were killed, but that amount is substantially higher than most estimates. 

The overall cost of the earthquake is estimated between $7 billion and $14 billion, according to NOAA. 

Residents from Meulaboh town, west of Ac
Residents from Meulaboh town, west of Aceh, search through debris on Dec. 31, 2004.  AGUS/AFP via Getty Images

Indonesia and Indian Ocean – 227,000 people 

The deadliest earthquake so far in the 21st century was the December 2004 earthquake in Indonesia. The earthquake that struck on Dec. 26 was the strongest of this list, hitting as a magnitude 9.1 off of Sumatra island and ranking as the third largest since 1900, according to the International Tsunami Information Center. The quake sparked a tsunami within 20 minutes, according to the Center, which killed "more people than any other tsunami in recorded history." 

The death and missing toll, according to center, stands at nearly 228,000 people from more than a dozen countries along the Indian Ocean. In Indonesia, the death toll was more than 167,500. 

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