List of natural disasters by death toll

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Global multihazard mortality risks and distribution (2005).

A natural disaster is a sudden event that always causes widespread destruction, major collateral damage or loss of life, brought about by forces other than the acts of human beings. A natural disaster might be caused by earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruption, landslide, hurricanes etc. To be classified as a disaster, it will have profound environmental effect and/or human loss and frequently causes financial loss.

Ten deadliest natural disasters by highest estimated death toll excluding epidemics and famines[edit]

This list takes into account only the highest estimated death toll for each disaster, and lists them accordingly. It does not include epidemics and famines. It does not include several volcanic eruptions with uncertain death tolls resulting from collateral effects such as crop failures; see List of volcanic eruptions by death toll. The list also does not include the 1938 Yellow River flood, which was caused by the deliberate destruction of dikes.

Death toll (Highest estimate) Event Location Date
4,000,000[1][nb 1] 1931 China floods China July 1931
2,000,000[2][3][4] 1887 Yellow River flood September 1887
830,000[5] 1556 Shaanxi earthquake January 23, 1556
655,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake July 28, 1976
316,000[6] 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti January 12, 2010
300,000+[1] 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) November 13, 1970
300,000+[7] 526 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) May 526
≈300,000[8] 1839 Coringa cyclone Andhra Pradesh, India November 25, 1839
273,400[9] 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China December 16, 1920
229,000 Typhoon Nina August 7, 1975

Deadliest natural disasters by year excluding epidemics and famines[edit]

20th century[edit]

Year Death toll Event Countries affected Type Date
1917 2,650 1917 Guatemala earthquakes Guatemala Earthquake November 1917–January 1918
1918 1,000 1918 Shantou earthquake China, Taiwan, Philippines Earthquake February 13
1919 772 1919 Florida Keys hurricane United States Tropical cyclone September 2–16
1920 200,000–273,400 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China, Mongolia Earthquake December 16
1921 215 September 1921 San Antonio floods United States Flood September 7 –11
1922 50,000–100,000+ 1922 Swatow typhoon Philippines, China Tropical cyclone July 27 –August 3
1923 142,800 1923 Great Kantō earthquake Japan Earthquake September 1
1924 1,000 1924 India floods India Flood July
1925 5,000 1925 Dali earthquake China Earthquake March 16
1926 709 1926 Havana–Bermuda hurricane Cuba, United States, Bahamas, Bermuda Tropical cyclone October 14 –28
1927 40,900 1927 Gulang earthquake China, Tibet Earthquake May 22
1928 4,112+ 1928 Okeechobee hurricane United States, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Bahamas, Dominica, Tropical cyclone September 12 –21
1929 3,257–3,800 1929 Kopet Dag earthquake Iran, Turkmenistan Earthquake May 1
1930 2,000–8,000 1930 San Zenón hurricane Dominican Republic Tropical cyclone September 3
1931 422,499–4,000,000 1931 China floods China Flood July – November
1932 3,103+ 1932 Cuba hurricane Cayman Islands, Cuba Tropical cyclone November 9
1933 6,865–9,300 1933 Diexi earthquake China Earthquake August 25
1934 10,700–12,000 1934 Nepal–India earthquake Nepal, India January 15
1935 30,000–60,000 1935 Quetta earthquake Pakistan May 31
1936 5,000+ 1936 North American heat wave United States, Canada Heat wave June – September
1937 11,021 1937 Great Hong Kong typhoon China Tropical cyclone September 2
1938 715+ 1938 Hanshin flood Japan Flood July
1939 32,700–32,968 1939 Erzincan earthquake Turkey Earthquake December 27
1940 1,000 1940 Vrancea earthquake Romania November 10
1941 1,200 1941 Jabal Razih earthquake Yemen January 11
1942 61,000 1942 West Bengal cyclone India Tropical cyclone October 14 – 18
1943 4,020 1943 Tosya–Ladik earthquake Turkey Earthquake November 27
1944 10,000 1944 San Juan earthquake Argentina January 15
1945 4,000 1945 Balochistan earthquake India, Pakistan November 28
1946 2,550 1946 Dominican Republic earthquake Dominican Republic August 4
1947 1,077 Typhoon Kathleen Japan Tropical cyclone September 15
1948 10,000–110,000 1948 Ashgabat earthquake Russia, Iran Earthquake October 6
1949 4,000 1949 Eastern Guatemalan floods Guatemala Flood September 28 – October 14
1950 2,910 1950 Pakistan flood Pakistan
1951 4,800 1951 Manchuria flood China September 18
1952 2,336 1952 Severo-Kurilsk earthquake Russia Earthquake November 4
1953 771 1953 Northern Kyushu flood Japan Flood July
1954 33,000 1954 Yangtze floods China June – September
1955 1,023+ Hurricane Janet Lesser Antilles, Mexico Tropical cyclone September 22 – 30
1956 4,935 Typhoon Wanda (1956) China August 1
1957 1,200 1957 Hamadan Province earthquake Iran Earthquake December 13
1958 1,269 Typhoon Ida (1958) Japan Tropical cyclone September 26
1959 5,000+ Typhoon Vera
1960 14,174 Severe Cyclonic Storm Ten East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) October 31
1961 11,468 Cyclone Winnie May 6 – 9
1962 12,225 1962 Buin Zahra earthquake Iran Earthquake September 1
1963 22,000 May 1963 East Pakistan II cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical cyclone May 28
1964 7,000 Tropical Storm Joan (1964) Vietnam November 4 – 11
1965 47,000 1965 Bengal cyclones East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) May 11 – 12 and June 1 – 2
1966 2,394–3,000 1966 Varto earthquake Turkey Earthquake August 19
1967 934 1967 Pacific typhoon season Asia Typhoon January – December
1968 15,000 1968 Dasht-e Bayaz and Ferdows earthquakes Iran Earthquake August 31
1969 3,000 1969 Yangjiang earthquake China July 26
1970 300,000+ 1970 Bhola cyclone India, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Tropical cyclone November 3
1971 100,000 Hanoi and Red River Delta flood North Vietnam Flood August 1
1972 5,374 1972 Qir earthquake Iran Earthquake April 10
1973 2,175–2,204 1973 Luhuo earthquake China February 6
1974 8,210+ Hurricane Fifi–Orlene Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico Tropical cyclone September 18 – 20
1975 229,000 Typhoon Nina (1975) China August 7
1976 242,769–655,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake Earthquake July 28
1977 10,000–50,000 1977 Andhra Pradesh cyclone India Tropical cyclone November 19
1978 15,000–25,000 1978 Tabas earthquake Iran Earthquake September 16
1979 2,069 Hurricane David Dominican Republic, Dominica Tropical cyclone August 15 – September 8
1980 5,000 1980 El Asnam earthquake Algeria Earthquake October 10
1981 3,000 1981 Golbaf earthquake Iran June 11
1982 2,800 1982 North Yemen earthquake Yemen December 13
1983 1,342 1983 Erzurum earthquake Turkey October 30
1984 1,474 Typhoon Ike Philippines Tropical cyclone August 26 – September 6
1985 23,000 Armero tragedy Colombia Volcanic eruption November 14
1986 1,746 Lake Nyos disaster Cameroon Limnic eruption August 21
1987 5,000 1987 Ecuador earthquakes Ecuador Earthquake March 6
1988 25,000 1988 Armenian earthquake Armenia December 7
1989 3,814 1989 Sichuan flood China Flood July 27
1990 50,000 1990 Manjil–Rudbar earthquake Iran Earthquake June 21
1991 138,866 1991 Bangladesh cyclone Bangladesh Tropical cyclone April 24 – 30
1992 2,500 1992 Flores earthquake and tsunami Indonesia Earthquake, Tsunami December 12
1993 9,748 1993 Latur earthquake India Earthquake September 30
1994 1,100 1994 Páez River earthquake Colombia June 6
1995 6,434 Great Hanshin earthquake Japan January 17
1996 1,077 1996 Andhra Pradesh cyclone India Tropical cyclone November 4 – 7
1997 3,123 Tropical Storm Linda (1997) Vietnam, Thailand Tropical cyclone, Flood November 1 – 9
1998 11,374 Hurricane Mitch Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico Tropical cyclone October 22 – November 9
1999 17,127 1999 İzmit earthquake Turkey Earthquake August 17
2000 800 2000 Mozambique flood Mozambique Flood February – March

21st century[edit]

Year Death toll Event Countries affected Type Date
2001 20,085 2001 Gujarat earthquake India Earthquake January 26
2002 1,030 2002 Indian heat wave Heat wave May
2003 72,000 2003 European heat wave Europe July – August
2004 227,898 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia Earthquake, Tsunami December 26
2005 87,351 2005 Kashmir earthquake India, Pakistan Earthquake October 8
2006 5,782 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake Indonesia May 26
2007 15,000 Cyclone Sidr Bangladesh, India Tropical cyclone November 11 – 16
2008 138,373 Cyclone Nargis Myanmar April 27 – May 3
2009 1,115 2009 Sumatra earthquakes Indonesia Earthquake September 30
2010 100,000–316,000 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti January 12
2011 19,749 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami Japan Earthquake, Tsunami March 11
2012 1,901 Typhoon Bopha Philippines Tropical cyclone December 4 – 5
2013 6,340 Typhoon Haiyan Philippines, Vietnam, China November 8 – 10
2014 2,700 2014 Badakhshan mudslides Afghanistan Landslide May 2
2015 8,964 April 2015 Nepal earthquake Nepal, India Earthquake April 25
2016 1,111[10] 2016 Indian heat wave India Heat wave April – May
2017 3,059 Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico, Dominica Tropical cyclone September 19 – 21
2018 4,340 2018 Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami Indonesia Earthquake, Tsunami September 28
2019 3,951+ 2019 European heat waves Europe Heat wave June – July
2020 1,922[11] 2020 Indian floods India, Bangladesh Flood June – September
2021 2,248 2021 Haiti earthquake Haiti Earthquake August 14
2022 11,968 2022 European heat waves Europe Heat wave June 12 – Ongoing

Lists of natural disasters by cause[edit]

Ten deadliest earthquakes[edit]

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1. 830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquake Ming dynasty (now China) January 23, 1556
2. 242,769–655,000[12] 1976 Tangshan earthquake China July 28, 1976
3. 100,000−316,000 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti January 12, 2010
4. 273,400[9] 1920 Haiyuan earthquake Ningxia, Republic of China (now China) December 16, 1920
5. 250,000–300,000[7] 526 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) May 526
6. 260,000[13] 115 Antioch earthquake Roman Empire (now Turkey) December 13, 115
7. 230,000 1138 Aleppo earthquake Zengid dynasty (now Syria) October 11, 1138
1139 Ganja earthquake Azerbaijan and Georgia 20 September 1139
8. 227,898 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Indonesia December 26, 2004
9. 200,000 1303 Hongdong earthquake[14] Mongol Empire (now China) September 17, 1303
856 Damghan earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Iran) December 22, 856
1780 Tabriz earthquake Iran January 8, 1780

Ten deadliest famines[edit]

Note: Some of these famines may have been caused or partially caused by humans.

Note: This list is ranked by number of deaths. Not deaths per capita, as in the percentage of the population.

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 15,000,000–55,000,000 Great Chinese Famine China 1959–1961
2. 25,000,000[15] Chinese famine of 1906–1907 1906–1907
3. 9,000,000–13,000,000[16] Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–1879 1876–1879
4. 11,000,000 Chalisa famine India 1783–1784
Doji bara famine or Skull famine 1789–1793
6. 10,000,000 Great Bengal famine of 1770, incl. Bihar & Orissa British India 1769–1773
7. 7,500,000 Great European Famine Europe 1315–1317
8. 7,400,000 Deccan famine of 1630–1632 Mughal Empire, now India 1630–1632
9. 5,000,000–8,000,000 Soviet famine of 1932–1933 Soviet Union 1932–1933
10. 5,500,000 Indian Great Famine of 1876–1878 British India 1876–1878

Deadliest impact events[edit]

Note: Although there have been no scientifically verified cases of astronomical objects resulting in human fatalities, there have been several reported occurrences throughout human history. Consequently, the casualty figures for all events listed are considered unofficial.

Rank Death toll (unofficial) Location Date Notes
1. 10,000+ Qingyang, Gansu, China 1490 1490 Ch'ing-yang event
2. "Tens" Changshou District, Chongqing, China 1639 10 homes destroyed[17][18]
3. 10+ China 616 AD a large meteorite fell onto the rebel Lu Ming-Yueh's camp, destroying a wall-attacking tower[18][19]
4. 2 Malacca ship, Indian Ocean 1648 2 sailors killed on board a ship[18]
Podkamennaya Tunguska River, Siberia, Russian Empire 1908 Tunguska event[17]
6. 1 Cremona, Lombardy, Italy 1511 a monk and several animals were killed by stones weighing up to 50 kg (110 lb)[18]
Milan, Lombardy, Italy 1633 or 1664 a monk died after being struck on the thigh by a meteorite[18]
Gascony, France 1790 a farmer was reportedly struck and killed by a meteorite[18]
Oriang, Malwate, India 1825 [17][20]
Chin-kuei Shan, China 1874 a cottage was crushed by a meteorite, killing a child[17][21]
Newtown, Indiana, United States * 1879 a man was killed in bed by a meteorite[17] *later revealed to be a hoax[22]
Dun-le-Poëlier, France 1879 a farmer was killed by a meteorite[17]
Zvezvan, Yugoslavia 1929 a meteorite hit a bridal party[17]

Deadliest limnic eruptions[edit]

Note: Only 2 cases in recorded history.

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,744 Lake Nyos disaster Cameroon August 21, 1986
2. 37 Lake Monoun disaster August 15, 1984

Ten deadliest wildfires/bushfires[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,200–2,500 Peshtigo fire Wisconsin, United States October 8, 1871
2. 1,200 Kursha-2 Fire Soviet Union August 3, 1936
3. 453 Cloquet fire[23] Minnesota, United States October 12, 1918
4. 418+ Great Hinckley Fire September 1, 1894
5. 282 Thumb Fire Michigan, United States September 5, 1881
6. 240 1997 Indonesian forest fires[24][25] Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia September 1997
7. 160–300 1825 Miramichi fire Canada October 7, 1825
8. 223 Matheson Fire Ontario, Canada July 29, 1916
9. 191 1987 Black Dragon fire[24][25] China and Soviet Union May 1, 1987
10. 173 Black Saturday bushfires[24][25] Australia February 7, 2009

Ten deadliest avalanches/landslides[edit]

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1. 100,000 1786 Dadu River landslide dam; triggered by the 1786 Kangding-Luding earthquake[26] China 1786
1920 Haiyuan landslides; triggered by the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake[26] 1920
3. 22,000 1970 Huascarán avalanche; triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake[27] Peru 1970
4. 10,000–30,000 Vargas tragedy[28] Venezuela 1999
10,000 White Friday avalanches[29][30] Italy 1916
6. 5,000–28,000 Khait landslide[31][32] Tajikistan 1949
7. 4,000–6,000 1941 Huaraz avalanche[33] Peru 1941
4,000 1962 Huascarán avalanche[27] 1962
9. 3,466 1310 Western Hubei landslide[26] China 1310
10. 3,429 1933 Diexi landslides[26] 1933

Ten deadliest blizzards[edit]

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1. 4,000 1972 Iran blizzard Iran 1972
2. 3,000 Carolean Death March Norway 1719
3. 926 2008 Afghanistan blizzard Afghanistan 2008
4. 400 Great Blizzard of 1888 United States 1888
5. 353 Great Appalachian Storm of 1950 1950
6. 318 1993 Storm of the Century 1993
7. 299–978 2021 North American winter storm 2021
8. 286 December 1960 nor'easter 1960
9. 250 Great Lakes Storm of 1913 United States and Canada (Great Lakes region) 1913
10. 235 Schoolhouse Blizzard United States 1888

Ten deadliest floods[edit]

Note: Some of these floods and landslides may be partially caused by humans – for example, by failure of dams, levees, seawalls or retaining walls.
This list does not include the man-made 1938 Yellow River flood caused entirely by a deliberate man-made act (an act of war, destroying dikes).

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 422,499–4,000,000[34] 1931 China floods China 1931
2. 900,000–2,000,000 1887 Yellow River (Huang He) flood 1887
3. 230,000[35] 1975 Banqiao Dam failure 1975
4. 145,000 1935 Yangtze flood 1935
5. 100,000+ St. Felix's flood, storm surge Holy Roman Empire 1530
7. 100,000[citation needed] 1911 Yangtze River flood China 1911
8. 100,000[36][37][38][39] The flood of 1099 Netherlands & England 1099
9. 50,000–80,000[37] St. Lucia's flood, storm surge Holy Roman Empire 1287
10. 60,000 North Sea flood, storm surge 1212

Ten deadliest heat waves[edit]

Note: Measuring the number of deaths caused by a heat wave requires complicated statistical analysis, since heat waves tend to cause large numbers of deaths among people weakened by other conditions. As a result, the number of deaths is only known with any accuracy for heat waves in the modern era in countries with developed healthcare systems.

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 72,000 2003 European heat wave Europe 2003
2. 56,000 2010 Russian heat wave Russia 2010
3. 41,072[40] 1911 French heat wave France 1911
4. 11,968 2022 European heat waves Europe 2022
5. 9,500 1901 eastern United States heat wave United States 1901
6. 5,000–10,000 1988–1990 North American drought United States 1988
7. 3,951 2019 European heat waves Europe 2019
8. 3,418[41] 2006 European heat wave 2006
9. 2,541[41] 1998 Indian heat wave India 1998
10. 2,500 2015 Indian heat wave 2015

Ten deadliest pandemics / epidemics[edit]

Death counts are historical totals unless indicated otherwise. Events in boldface are ongoing.

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date Pathogen − (disease caused)
1. 75–200 million[42] Black Death Europe, Asia and North Africa 1346–1353 Yersinia pestis − (Plague)
2. 50 million+ (17–100 million)[43][44] Spanish flu Worldwide 1918–1920 Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 − (Influenza/"the flu")
3. 40.1 million (as of 2022)[45] HIV/AIDS pandemic Worldwide 1981–present Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) − (HIV/AIDS)
4. 30–50 million[46][47][48] Plague of Justinian Europe and West Asia 541–542 Yersinia pestis − (Plague)
5. 7–25 million (as of July 2022)[49][50][51] COVID-19 pandemic Worldwide 2019–present SARS‑CoV‑2 − (COVID-19)
6. 12–15 million (India and China)[52] Third plague pandemic Worldwide 1855–1960 Yersinia pestis − (Bubonic plague)
7. 5–15 million[53][54][55][56] Cocoliztli Epidemic of 1545–1548 Mexico 1545–1548 Uncertain. Likely Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica − (Enteric fever) or viral hemorrhagic fever but no consensus.
8. 5–10 million[57] Antonine Plague Roman Empire 165–180 (possibly up to 190) Likely Variola − (Smallpox), possibly alongside Measles morbillivirus − (Measles)
9. 5–8 million[55] 1520 Mexico smallpox epidemic Mexico 1519–1520 Variola virus − (Smallpox)
10. 2.5 million[58] 1918–1922 Russia typhus epidemic Russia 1918–1922 Rickettsia prowazekii − (Epidemic typhus)

Ten deadliest tornadoes[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,300 The Daulatpur–Saturia tornado Manikganj, Bangladesh 1989
2. 695 The Tri-State tornado outbreak United States (MissouriIllinoisIndiana) 1925
3. 681 1973 Dhaka tornado Bangladesh 1973
4. 660 1969 East Pakistan tornado East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1969
5. 600 The Valletta, Malta tornado Malta 1551 or 1556
6. 500 The Sicily Tornadoes Sicily, Two Sicilies (now Italy) 1851
Narail-Magura tornado Jessore, East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1964
Madaripur-Shibchar tornado Bangladesh 1977
9. 400 The 1984 Soviet Union tornado outbreak Soviet Union (now Russia) 1984
10. 317 The Great Natchez Tornado United States (MississippiLouisiana) 1840

Ten deadliest tropical cyclones[edit]

Note: Earlier versions of this list have included the so-called 'Bombay Cyclone of 1882' in tenth position, but this supposed event has been proven to be a hoax.

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 500,000+ 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) November 13, 1970
2. 300,000
1839 Coringa cyclone[8] British India (now India) November 25, 1839
3. 300,000+ 1737 Calcutta cyclone British India (now India) October 27, 1737
4. 229,000 Super Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failure China August 7, 1975
5. 200,000[59] Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876 British Raj (now Bangladesh) October 30, 1876
6. 138,866 1991 Bangladesh cyclone Bangladesh April 29, 1991
7. 138,373 Cyclone Nargis Myanmar May 2, 2008
8. 100,000 July 1780 typhoon[60] Philippines 1780
9. 10,000–50,000 1977 Andhra Pradesh cyclone India November 14, 1977
10. 15,000 1999 Odisha cyclone India October 29, 1999

Ten deadliest tsunamis[edit]

Note: A possible tsunami in 1782 that caused about 40,000 deaths in the Taiwan Strait area may have been of "meteorological" origin (a cyclone).[61]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 227,898 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami Indian Ocean December 26, 2004
2. 123,000[1] 1908 Messina earthquake Italy December 28, 1908
3. 36,417 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Indonesia August 27, 1883
4. 40,000–50,000[62] 1755 Lisbon earthquake Portugal November 1, 1755
5. 30,000–100,000 Minoan eruption Greece 2nd Millennium BC
6. 31,000 1498 Meiō earthquake Japan September 20, 1498
7. 30,000 1707 Hōei earthquake October 28, 1707
8. 27,122[63] 1896 Sanriku earthquake June 15, 1896
9. 25,674 1868 Arica earthquake Chile August 13, 1868
10. 5,700[64]–50,000[65] 365 Crete earthquake Greece July 21, 365

Ten deadliest volcanic eruptions[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 71,000+[66] 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora (see also Year Without a Summer) Indonesia April 10, 1815
2. 36,000+[67] 1883 eruption of Krakatoa August 27, 1883
3. 30,000[68] 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée Martinique May 7, 1902
4. 23,000[69] Armero tragedy Colombia November 13, 1985
5. 15,000[70] 1792 Unzen earthquake and tsunami Japan May 21, 1792
6. 13,000[71] Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD Italy 79
7. 10,000+ 1586 Kelud eruption Indonesia 1586
8. 6,000[72] 1902 Santa Maria eruption Guatemala October 24, 1902
9. 5,000[73] 1919 Kelud mudflow Indonesia May 19, 1919
10. 4,011[74] 1822 Galunggung eruption 1822

See also[edit]

Other lists organized by death toll

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Estimate by Nova's sources are close to 4 million and yet Encarta's sources report as few as 1 million. Expert estimates report wide variance.

References[edit]

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