4. Japan, 2011
Five days after a 9.0-magnitude temblor struck the northeast coast of Japan, the final death toll is still unknown. Yet the disaster already ranks as the fourth-deadliest earthquake in the Pacific Rim since 1975. The resultant 30-foot tsunami caused the worst of the damage.
At least 10,000 people are confirmed dead or missing, although the toll looks to be much higher. More than 500,000 people were displaced and are now living in shelters. One survey of conducted by the Kyodo News found that about 30,000 people remain unaccounted for. "It is the first time since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that the number of dead and people unaccounted for in a natural disaster has exceeded 10,000," the agency said in a separate report.