Nepal earthquake tops list of natural disasters in 2015

Nepal earthquake tops list of natural disasters in 2015

From earthquakes to floods, bushfires to hurricanes, 2015 had more than its share of record-breaking natural disasters.

From earthquakes to floods, bushfires to hurricanes, 2015 had more than its share of record-breaking natural disasters.

Van Nguyen takes a look back at some of the major natural disasters that shook the world in 2015.

In numbers, the most devastating natural disaster of 2015 was the April earthquake in Nepal.

The magnitude 7.8 quake that struck outside of Nepal's capital Kathmandu was the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years.

More than 8,000 people were killed, and more than 450,000 were made homeless.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello described the devastation as horrific.

"As we now get out into the regions, where there has been no visibility, my staff are telling me it is just horrific, that there are so many injured people, there are houses that withstood the earthquake (that) now are crumbling. And I saw lots of smoke as I came in, burning corpses, putting the ashes in the local river, and it is really quite shocking."

In October, Afghanistan and Pakistan also experienced a powerful earthquake.

That magnitude 7.5 quake was centred in Afghanistan's Badakhshan province, near the Pakistan border.

More than 360 people are known to have died, most of them in Pakistan, and at least 2,000 were injured on both sides of the border.

One survivor in Badakhshan described what he felt inside his family home when it hit.

(Translated) "I was praying when the earthquake happened. I didn't move at first. When it got worse, my father and sister moved out, and I got stuck inside the house with my mother and couldn't move out. My father kept calling for me to come out, but, when the walls collapsed, we got caught inside the house."

Meanwhile, Vanuatu experienced a different kind of destruction.

A top of the scale Category 5 storm swept across the Pacific Island nation in March and killed at least 10 people, while destroying thousands of homes and buildings.

Tropical Cyclone Pam has been called one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike the Pacific.

In Port Vila, the devastation almost completely wiped out the structures of the capital.

A World Vision worker in Port Vila, Chloe Morrison, suggested it could take a poor nation like Vanuatu many years to recover.

"This has been a nationwide disaster. Islands from the north to the south (of Vanuatu) have been affected by this. And if you think about how long it takes countries to recover from disasters. Countries like New Zealand are still recovering from the (2011) Christchurch earthquake, the Philippines are recovering from Typhoon Haiyan (in 2013), and these are far more developed countries than a country like Vanuatu, where so many people were already living in poverty."

Two more ferocious typhoons hit the Phillippines in 2015, the latest, Typhoon Melor in December, killing dozens of people.

In October, Typhoon Koppu had forced thousands to flee their homes as it submerged villages along the coast.

With winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, the centre of the storm hit the remote coastal town of Casiguran, north-east of the capital Manila.

Oxfam's country director in the Philippines, Justin Morgan, said the agency was prepared for typhoons in the country but this one was a challenge.

"Typhoons in the Philippines, it's not unusual, but this one is actually stronger than most that we see in the year. And as a result, the preparedness has been very good. Evacuations were in place, and they continue as the typhoon crosses the Philippines. So with the evacuations in place, it is making a big difference. But the real situation in terms of what the respondents will be doing will be after the typhoon passes, and that'll be a case of making sure that people have got their shelter quickly, that they're getting food and water."

In mid May, India was struck by a severe heatwave, with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees in some parts.

More than 2,500 people died in what was one of the worst heatwaves in India's recent history.

Hospitals were overwhelmed, with patients suffering from sunstroke and dehydration from the intense heat.

This man described what happened to his brother, a patient at a hospital in Visakhapatnam.

(Translated)"He suffered sunstroke while going to work yesterday morning. His condition became serious. People said that the temperature touched 45 degrees Celsius yesterday. It was extremely hot. I have never experienced such intense heat in Vizag (Visakhapatnam) before. The government needs to take precautions to help people in this situation."

In Australia, bushfires are frequent events during the hotter months of the year.

However, in November, a major bushfire burning in Adelaide became the worst to hit South Australia since 1983.

It left two dead and another five critically injured.

The fire also burnt through more than 80,000 hectares of mostly cropping land and destroyed or seriously damaged almost 90 homes.

South Australian premier Jay Wetherill thanked the state's people for pulling together during the crisis.

"We're so grateful for the expression of solidarity and support. Not only will this be important in a material sense, it gives great moral comfort for the people who are suffering these losses to know that there are other people standing by them and with them."



Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch