Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

More than 11,000 have died in the Türkiye-Syria earthquake. How does it compare to the world's deadliest quakes?

The death toll across Türkiye and war-ravaged northern Syria has exceeded 11,000, making Monday's earthquake the deadliest in more than a decade.

The World Health Organization has warned it expects the number of fatalities to rise significantly, with thousands trapped under buildings and cold weather hampering rescue efforts. 

So, how does the event and death toll compare to other earthquakes across the world?

Where have the deadliest earthquakes hit?

It is Türkiye's deadliest earthquake since 1999, when a magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit Izmit, killing around 18,000 people.

One of the deadliest earthquakes in history happened off the coast of Indonesia on Boxing Day in 2004.

The magnitude-9.1 earthquake and resulting tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean killed about 230,000 people.

The other deadliest earthquake in the past 25 years hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. 

About 220,000 people were reportedly killed in the magnitude-7 quake.

It destroyed more than 300,000 buildings in Port-au-Prince and across the country's south-west.

However, the reported death toll varies from 100,000 to the government's estimation of more than 300,000.

Other deadly events include a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 that killed more than 80,000 people and a magnitude-7.9 quake that struck China in 2008, causing more than 87,500 fatalities.

A magnitude-9.0 quake off the north-east coast of Japan in 2011 triggered a tsunami which killed nearly 20,000 people.

Before Monday's earthquake, the deadliest in recent years was a magnitude-7.6 quake in Nepal in 2015 which killed 8,800 people.

Highest magnitude earthquakes on record

The most powerful earthquake on record hit southern Chile in 1960 with a magnitude of 9.5, according to the United States Geological Survey. 

The earthquake and the resulting tsunami claimed 1,655 lives. 

Four years later, a magnitude-9.2 quake hit Southern Alaska. 

The Japanese quake and tsunami in 2011 and Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 both reached a magnitude of 9.1.

How is magnitude measured?

To determine a size of an earthquake, the amplitude of the seismic waves and the distance of the seismograph is measured, according to Geoscience Australia. 

They are then put in a formula to be converted to magnitude. 

The magnitude measures the size of the earthquake by the energy released at the source. 

Each whole number in the scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times more energy.

A magnitude-2 quake is typically said to be the smallest commonly felt by humans.

How does Monday's earthquake compare? 

On average, there are fewer than 20 quakes over magnitude-7.0 in any year, making the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria severe.

A magnitude-6.2 earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016 killed some 300 people. 

In comparison, the Türkiye-Syria earthquake released 250 times as much energy with a magnitude of 7.8.

That's according to Joanna Faure Walker, who is head of the University College London's institute for risk and disaster reduction.

Only two of the deadliest earthquakes from 2013 to 2022 were of the same magnitude as Monday's quake.

What are the challenges facing earthquake responses?

Every earthquake response comes with it its own set of challenges and issues.

This is evident as rescue teams in Türkiye and Syria battle severe weather conditions causing freezing temperatures and snow.

The conditions will also be affecting those who were left homeless or without shelter.

In 2015, Nepal's high altitude and mountainous areas provided response teams with huge issues, especially getting help to remote areas.

Monsoonal rains and subsequent landslides also created huge problems for the rescue effort.

The response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 saw an influx of inexperienced first responders into the capital Port-au-Prince, which complicated relief efforts.

It was also later revealed that workers from the charity Oxfam were exploiting earthquake survivors for sex.

And the sheer size of the affected areas in the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami in 2004 overwhelmed aid agencies.

Subsequent reports said charity rivalries, inappropriate aid and managing the huge amounts of money donated also hampered relief efforts.

ABC with wires

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.