Top 10 Most Deadly Disasters

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If you think you have seen the most deadly disasters of all time, think again. The worst disasters ever recorded in history killed more than a million people in its course. This list will identify 10 deadliest natural disasters recorded in the history.


10. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

One of the most deadly disasters of all time is the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. With a magnitude of 9.0, the undersea megathrust earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that literally wiped out a great part of Japan’s pacific coast. It was the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history that resulted to a lot more damaging aftermaths such as landslides, flooding, fires, radiation releases and other nuclear incidents.

Total casualties from this earthquake-tsunami tandem was 15,884. 6,148 were injured and about 2,633 are still missing. Up to this date, a total of 10,583 aftershocks have been recorded as an aftermath of the tragic earthquake.


9. The 2010 Haiti earthquake

2010 Haiti earthquake

One of the most controversial and most deadly disasters happened on January 12, 2010 in the Republic of Haiti. A magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale killed almost 159,000 people in the town of Léogâne and nearby cities. It was followed by at least 52 aftershocks. Over 30,000 commercial buildings from Haiti’s capital city and nearby areas have were severely damaged and about 250,000 residences were affected by the earthquake.

The tragic event has been reported all over the world and many countries responded to help Haiti by donating medical aids, rescue dispatches, funds, engineers, and support staff. Up to this date, the country has not been fully recovered yet, and disease outbreaks are still killing more people.


8. The 526 Antioch earthquake

526 Antioch earthquake

One of the most catastrophic earthquakes that has its spot on the most deadly disasters of all time dated back to May 526. A modern estimate magnitude of 7.0 was recorded to have killed about 250,000 Syrian in total. It has destroyed many buildings including the Domus Aurea—Constantine’s great octagonal church. However, it was reported that most of the damage occurred in the earthquake’s aftermath.


7. The 1920 Haiyuan earthquake

 1920 Haiyuan earthquake

A massive earthquake hit a great part of China, specifically in Haiyuan County, in December 16, 1920. It caused around 275,000 fatalities and was recorded to be the third deadliest earthquake of all time and one of the most deadly disasters ever reported. It registered a 7.8 in the Richter scale followed by a three-year series of aftershocks.

In Haiyuan County alone, over 73,000 people were killed from the first surge of the disastrous earthquake. Two villages were buried from a series of landslides and nearly 30,000 people were killed in the nearby county. The damage from the earthquake occurred in seven provinces and regions including some major cities of China.


6. The 1839 Coringa Cyclone

1839 Coringa Cyclone

North India is known to have faced the worst cyclones to have ever recorded. The “worst” part, however, meant that it had killed a lot more people in its course than the bigger storms and cyclones that have hit other countries and continents.

Killing almost 300,000 people, the cyclone that hit the small village called Coringa in Andhra Pradesh India was recorded to be 2nd deadliest tropical cyclone of all time and one of the most deadly disasters in history. The storm have wiped out the harbor city of the village, and destroyed about 25,000 ships. The small village was never rebuilt entirely up to this date.


5. The 1970 Bhola Cyclone

 The 1970 Bhola Cyclone

Topping the deadliest tropical cyclones in all times, the Bhola cyclone is not as strong as the Typhoon Tip in 1979 which affected Guam, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Although not the strongest cyclone, the Bhola cyclone killed almost 500,000 people in Eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which warrants it being included in the list of most deadly disasters; whereas “extratropical” cyclone Tip only killed 99 people in total.

With its wind strength of up to 205 km/h, cyclone Bhola wiped out every villages on its way and destroyed crops throughout the province. The district that was severely affected by the cyclone was left with only 55% of its total population.


4. The 1976 Tangshan Earthquake

1976 Tangshan Earthquake

This is another catastrophic earthquake that China had to face. Also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, this catastrophe had been recorded to have a magnitude of 8.2 and had left China with around 240,000 casualties. It was followed by an aftershock with a magnitude of 7.1 killing another 255,000 people in Tangshan’s surrounding areas. Although, there is a discrepancy in statistics, this earthquake remained to be one of the most most deadly disasters to even happen in the history.


3. The 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake

1556 Shaanxi Earthquake

Nearly 830,000 people were killed from this catastrophic earthquake, making it one of the most deadly disasters in human history. It is also the deadliest earthquake to be recorded in the history. It destroyed about an 840-kilometer-wide area from its epicenter. Since there was no way to know how strong the earthquake was, modern geologists have given this earthquake a magnitude of 7.9 basing on geological records. This was not the last fatal earthquake that China will have to experience, though.


2. The Yellow River Flood of 1887

Yellow River Flood of 1887

Apparently, China has a reputation of having the most deadly disasters in history. When the Yellow River overflowed its banks in 1887, it was reported to have killed around two million people from Northern China by either getting drowned or from waterborne illnesses.


1. The 1931 Great Flood of China

1931 Great Flood of China

Killing an estimate of four million people, the Central China Floods of 1931 tops the list for most deadly disasters by its sheer death toll. Before this disastrous flood happened, China has been tormented by unnaturally long drought. It was followed by heavy winter snowstorms and heavy rainfall in spring that raised China’s infamous rivers waters on a significant level. The rain got heavier in mid-1931 because of the expected cyclone season. The three rivers—Yellow, Yangtze, and Huai—overflowed from the series of heavy rains resulting to extreme flooding in the major land areas of China. People who have died during this great disaster were either killed from drowning, waterborne diseases, hunger, or cannibalized by the desperate survivors; this truly makes the Great Flood the worst of the most deadly disasters in history.

The list of the most deadly disasters of all time will not limit to the aforementioned events. There are far greater catastrophes that happened before the modern-day recording that are not included in this list.


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