Top 10 Natural Disasters in History

While some natural disasters can be predicted, the number of people it will affect come with alarming figures. Natural disasters will continue to occur and the death toll will continue to be tallied. Listed below are the 10 worst natural disasters that the world has seen. These calamities are ranked according to the number of lives that were lost because of it.

10. 1975 Typhoon Nina
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 229,000

Typhoon Nina 1975

Typhoon Nina hit China in 1975. This storm was so strong that it destroyed the Banqiao Dam, which further caused the death of approximately 229,000 people. A few smaller dams collapsed during the course of the storm, which also brought in heavy floods and a lot of structural damage. The typhoon formed on July 30, 1975 and dissipated one long week after. Its highest winds was recorded at 250 km/h and has brought about $1.2 billion estimated worth of damages. Typhoon Nina is regarded as the fourth deadliest tropical cyclone on record.

9. 1920 Haiyuan Earthquake
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 273,4000

1920 Haiyuan Earthquake

One of the strongest earthquake that hit China is the Haiyuan earthquake which happened that fateful day of December 16, 1920. At magnitude 7.8, which the bureau eventually changed to 8.5, the earthquake hit 8:05 pm Beijing time.  The earthquake was so strong that there were aftershocks were felt up to three years after. The destruction of the earthquake was slated at the maximum intensity of XII on the Mercalli scale.

8. 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 280,000

2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

One of the more recent calamities the figured in this list is the Indian Ocean Tsunami which epicenter was at the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake that caused the tsunami occurred on December 26, 2004, recorded at magnitude 9.1 on the Ritcher scale. What occurred next is a series of tsunamis with waves of up to 100 feet high. This natural disaster affected other countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. This earthquake is the third largest recorded on a seismograph.

7. 1737 Calcutta Cyclone
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 300,000


The cyclone that hit India in 1737 claimed the lives of over 300,000 people. The cyclone has also sunk ships and destroyed a lot of properties. Back to that time when the official record of fatalities and damages is difficult to document, the effect of this natural disaster that hit Calcutta still went down in history as the city’s deadliest one ever.

6. 1839 India Cyclone
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 300,000

1839 India Cyclone

In 1839, another enormous cyclone that caused a 40-feet high storm surge hit Coringa, Andhra Pradesh. Situated in India, this harbor city was technically wiped out by this very powerful, raging storm. It claimed the lives of 300,000 people and destroyed 25,000 ships. Rebuilding the city was beyond the capability of its own survivors.

5. 1976 Tangshan Earthquake
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 655,000

1976 Tangshan Earthquake

If not storms, earthquakes prove to be the other major natural calamity that can claim many lives. The 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China, for example, left some 650,000 people dead. The earthquake occurred on July 28, 1976 and it was regarded as the largest one to happen in the 20th century. The earthquake hit early morning at the magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale. The earthquake itself, and the equally strong aftershocks turned all of the buildings in the city into rubble.

4. 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 830,000

1556 Shaanxi Earthquake

The Shaanxi Earthquake is yet another deadly earthquake to happen in China. The fatalities of this quake were very alarming at 800,000 although most of the deaths were undocumented. The earthquake hit on January 23, 1556 with a reported magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale. The aftershocks that were felt just a few minutes after the major one were as high as magnitude 7.1. The earthquake said to have destroyed everything within an 840-kilometer radius from the epicenter. Even those who lived inside the artificial caves and cliffs were not spared by this epic earthquake hit.

3. 1970 Bhola Cyclone
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 1,000,000

1970 Bhola Cyclone

The Bhola cyclone went down in history as the strongest storm that Bangladesh ever experienced. It hit the country, which was then named as East Pakistan, on November 13, 1970. This tropical storm left an astounding number of people dead – almost a million in their last count. The hurricane, which formed in the Bay of Bengal on November 11, also hit India and West Bengal. The storm has the highest sustained winds of 205 km/hr. It was assessed that around $86.4 million worth of properties were damaged by this storm.

2. 1887 Yellow River Flood
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 2,000,000

1887 Yellow River Flood

The Yellow River Flood of 1887 killed 900,000 people and injured plenty – until the official count was pegged at 2,000,000. Although the tragedy happened centuries back, it remained to be among the deadliest natural disasters to date. The cyclone that occurred on September 28, 1887 created a flood that covered 130,000 square kilometers of land. Over 2 million people were left homeless by one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

1. 1931 China Floods
Maximum Estimated Death Toll: 4,000,000

1931 China Floods

Another unbelievable and undeniably more deadly flood happened in China around five decades later. The 1931 Chinese flooding claimed the lives of some 4 million people, while affecting as many as 28.5 million. When the Yangtze River overflowed, the death count immediately went up to 145,000. The worst period of the 1931 flooding happened from July to August. The rain along the Yangtze River went over 2 feet for the entire month. This is among China’s natural disasters that the world can’t forget.

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