Since the beginning of mankind, we have seen our fair share of natural disasters. From Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and even giant fire tornadoes! (A.K.A Fire Devils). But which ones are considered the worst?
January 12, 2010: The earthquake that hit Haiti's capital city, Port au Prince, affected more than three million people, caused over 200,000 deaths, left two million homeless, and left three million people in need of emergency assistance. More than 250,000 homes were destroyed along with 30,000 other buildings. Haitians received help from all over the world (at least $195 million US were raised, with more pledges promised. The US and European Union promised long-term help for reconstruction of the city) but today, Port au Prince has still not recovered.
December 26, 2004: The earthquake with a power of 9.15 on the Richter scale that hit the Sumatra coast in the Indian Ocean a day after Christmas sent deadly waves completely erased parts of Sumatra and left nothing behind. Also known as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, it lasted only ten seconds but resulted in 200,000 to 310,000 deaths on the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South India, and Thailand.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the US, overwhelming levees on the Mississippi River and leaving significant parts of the city of New Orleans under water. This was the sixth strongest and fifth most destructive hurricane to ever hit the US. It killed 1,833 people and material damage was estimated at $81 billion dollars. Now, years after the hurricane, many people are still displaced and reconstruction is not complete.
On October 8, 2005, the Kashmir earthquake, which registered 7.6 in the Richter scale, with an epicenter near the India-Pakistan border, took 86,000 lives and left 106,000 people injured. Humanitarian movements raced against time to build shelters and give food to 500,000 people in the wake of the devastation. The earthquake destroyed 600,000 homes and left three million people homeless, but with time and help, including over $5.4 billion US dollars in aid from all over the world, life is now back to normal there.
On May 12, 2008, in the Sichuan Province in China, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 killed 69,197 people (with 18,222 missing still missing). The earthquake did damage estimated at $85 billion dollars. Three years after the catastrophe, people were still living in tents, with no money or hope to build a new home. Many have donated money to the reconstruction effort, but funds have been misplaced or misspent.
When the Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupted in early June, surrounding areas were soon engulfed in a deadly pyroclastic flow, a mixture of hot gas and volcanic rock that can move at speeds up to 90 miles per hour, according to The New York Times. The ground was so hot in areas that the soles of some rescue workers’ boots were coming apart.
China experienced a deadly tropical typhoon in August that killed 72 people. Lekima swept through several provinces, causing severe floods and major damage to roads and bridges. Many people went missing and a natural dam collapsed. Lekima prompted the Chinese government to issue a “red typhoon alert,” the highest alert that Beijing issues for such natural disasters.
Tropical Cyclone Idai hit southeastern Africa in what is now considered the deadliest storm ever to occur in the Southern Hemisphere. According to the International Disaster Database, Idai killed 602 people in Mozambique and 299 in Zimbabwe. It destroyed almost 90% of Mozambique’s second-largest port, Beira.
On November 3, 1970 the cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal and traveled northward, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 115 mph on November 11 and made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on the following afternoon. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Upazila, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm. The storm caused a death toll of at least 500,000 people overall.
On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing more than $5 billion in damages. Despite the fact that the disaster was one of the most powerful and destructive quakes ever to hit a populated area of the United States, the death toll was relatively small. The disaster is known as both as the San Francisco-Oakland earthquake and the Loma Prieta earthquake because it was centered near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Tohoku Earthquake hit a magnitude 9.0 on 11 March 2011 in Japan at 14: 46 local time (05:46 UTC). Epicenter had been at 70 kilometers east of Tohoku coastline, and underwater depth was about 30Km. The earthquake was followed by the particular Tsunami that triggers waves of height up to 40 meters. By Japan’s National Law Enforcement Company 15, 889 deaths had been verified. Nearly 6,152 individuals were injured plus more than 2,600 had been missing.
The biggest earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) hits China’s Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. It killed over 87,000 people. Millions of people were homeless. Thousands of these were buried beneath the rubble of communities that were destroyed. Factories, schools, homes were collapsed and it required troops and rescue groups a considerable amount of effort to achieve regions of southwestern China.
A powerful earthquake rocked Bam, an ancient city in southeastern Iran, early Friday morning, killing thousands and destroying 70 to 90 percent of the residential areas. Bam is 610 miles southeast of Tehran, in Kerman Province. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said the earthquake registered 6.3 on the standard magnitude scale. The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.7. Several aftershocks during the day, one measuring 5.3, jolted the city. The provincial governor general, Muhammad Ali Karimi, put the initial number of dead at 5,000 to 6,000, but said the toll was expected to rise as high as 20,000. Some 30,000 were reported to be injured, many in critical condition.
Hurricane Andrew was just another hurricane that hit the United States and left its own mark. It was considered to be the 5th worst hurricane to strike the US, ranking right there over Hurricane Katrina. It left massive destruction, causes plenty of deaths, and had countless dollars in property damages to be considered.
Hurricane Sandy (unofficially referred to as Superstorm Sandy) was the deadliest and most destructive, as well as the strongest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm inflicted nearly $70 billion (2012 USD) in damage and killed 233 people across eight countries from the Caribbean to Canada. The eighteenth named storm, tenth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the year, Sandy was a Category 3 storm at its peak intensity when it made landfall in Cuba. While it was a Category 2 hurricane off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with tropical-storm-force winds spanning 1,150 miles (1,850 km)).
Tsunamis aren’t supposed to strike central Pennsylvania, but that’s exactly what it looked like when a 40-foot high, half-mile wide wall of water and debris roared down upon the Appalachian town of Johnstown in 1889. In minutes, 1,600 homes were flattened and washed away, and 2,209 people were dead, including 99 entire families.
The 2009 California wildfires were a series of 63 wildfires that were active in the state of California during the year 2009. The fires burned more than 336,020 acres of land from the beginning of July through late November following red flag warnings, destroying hundreds of structures and killing two people. The Station Fire north of Los Angeles was the largest and deadliest of these wildfires, burning 160,577 acres and killing two firefighters.
Lakshadweep Sea region experienced an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale on October 12 2016. According to the National Centre for Seismology, a unit of Ministry of Earth Sciences, the quake hit the Lakshadweep Sea around 4:01 am at a depth of 10 km.
On February 6, 2012, at least 52 people were killed when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit Negros and Cebu (Philippines), causing landslides, creating huge cracks in highways, and violently shaking buildings. Rescuers dug with picks and shovels trying to reach dozens of people trapped under houses that collapsed.
You might recognize the Galveston hurricane as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. In fact, it’s the deadliest disaster of any type that’s ever occurred in the country. The hurricane claimed between 6,000 and 12,000 lives on Galveston island as well as the Texas mainland, mostly due to its 15-foot storm surge. “Survivors wrote of wind that sounded ‘like a thousand little devils shrieking and whistling,’ of 6-foot waves coming down Broadway Avenue, of a grand piano riding the crest of one, of slate shingles turned into whirling saw blades, and of streetcar tracks becoming waterborne battering rams that tore apart houses".
With more than 20 active volcanoes in the Philippines, the country is constantly at the danger of being affected by a catastrophe. Incidentally the second most active volcano, Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. On 12th January, the volcano started rumbling, sending tremors out and further resulting in an eruption. As a result, a large amount of ash dust was emitted and forced authorities to evacuate over 8,000 people close by and 3,00,000 people overall. Taal Volcano’s last eruption was 43 years ago. Reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology put forward the following data; a total of over 2,000 volcano induced tectonic earthquakes took place, out of which 176 were felt. As an impact of this, the Philippines is still picking up the pieces and healing from the damage.
The steep slopes and rainstorms in the coastal town of Laguna Beach, California, have resulted in serious landslides, as many people anticipated. After the landslide of 2005, over a thousand people were evacuated from 500 homes and much property was destroyed or severely damaged
On October 22, 1998, a large storm began to form in the Caribbean. Hurricane Mitch was a category five hurricane that affected Central America, but caused the most damage in Honduras and Nicaragua. Little did people know at the time, that this storm, was soon to be known as the deadliest hurricane to hit the Atlantic coast.
The avalanche that occurred near Hailey, Idaho on February 25, 1917 is one of the most tragic incidents on this list. It was called the North Star Mine Disaster and resulted in the deaths of 15 miners and 17 injured. All in all, the avalanche traveled for more than a mile and destroyed power lines, a bunkhouse, and the orehouse. However, the avalanche was not the end of it. Following the disaster was three days of heavy snowfall—the heaviest Hailey had ever seen before.
Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin in the small hours of Christmas Day 1974, killed 71 people and devastated 80 per cent of the city. wind gusts reached 217 km/h before the anemometer was destroyed gales extended to about 40 kilometres from the cyclone’s centre there was a storm surge of 1.6 metres in Darwin’s harbour; an estimated 4 metres at Casuarina Beach 255 mm of rain fell in 12 hours overnight, 145 mm in the two half-hour periods on either side of the eye of the cyclone
The Blizzard of 1978, sometimes known more formally as the Northeastern United States Blizzard of 1978, dropped 27.1 inches of snow on Boston. Sustained winds of 86 mph were recorded in eastern Massachusetts. Worcester Regional Airport tallied 20.2 inches, while Springfield fared better, receiving 14.5 inches of snow. Many people were left without heat, water, food, and electricity for over a week after the storm ended.
The winter storm of Feb. 5-6, 2010, was referred to as “Snowmageddon” by residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Even President Obama used the term to refer to the nasty blizzard after it effectively shut down Washington, D.C. Two blizzards actually hit back-to-back as another storm followed the first later in the month, compounding the impact of both. Elkridge, Maryland, experienced the highest snowfall at almost 40 inches. Six states declared national emergencies, and more than 40 people died as a result of the storms.