10 Deadliest Natural Disasters

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    A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard (e.g., flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or landslide) that affects the environment, and leads to financial, environmental and/or human losses. Here’s a list of the 10 worst ones.

    #10. 2010 Haiti Earthquake

    Death Toll: 222,000 People


    The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. They also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.

    #9. 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

    Death Toll: 230,210 People


    The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest hit, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

    #8. 1920 Haiyuan Earthquake

    Death Toll: 234,117 People


    1920 Haiyuan earthquake  was an earthquake that occurred on December 16, 1920. The earthquake hit at local time 20:06:53 (GMT 12:06:53), reportedly 7.8 on the Richter magnitude scale, followed by a series of aftershocks for three years. Today’s Chinese media claim the earthquake as of magnitude 8.5, although the scale is not specified. Over 73,000 people were killed in Haiyuan County. A landslide buried the village of Sujiahe in Xiji County. More than 30,000 people were killed in Guyuan County. Nearly all the houses collapsed in the cities of Longde and Huining. Damage (VI-X) occurred in 7 provinces and regions, including the major cities of Lanzhou, Taiyuan, Xi’an, Xining and Yinchuan. It was felt from the Yellow Sea to Qinghai (Tsinghai) Province and from Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia) south to central Sichuan Province.

    Total casualty was reported as 200,000 in a summary published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS),240,000 according to Ningxia Daily, a Chinese publication in the current administrative area, and 235,502 according to the Catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the World (Through 2008) maintained by the International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering.

    #7. 1976 Tangshan Earthquake

    Death Toll: 242,419 People


    The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People’s Republic of China, an industrial city with approximately one million inhabitants. The number of deaths initially reported by the Chinese government was 655,000, but this number has since been stated to be around 240,000 to 255,000. A further 164,000 people were recorded as being severely injured. The earthquake came in between a series of political events involving the Communist Party of China, ultimately leading to the expulsion of the ruling Gang of Four by Mao’s chosen successor Hua Guofeng. In traditional Chinese thought, natural disasters are seen as a precursor of dynastic change.

    #6. 526 Antioch Earthquake

    Death Toll: 250,000–300,000 People


    In 526 during late May, probably between the 20th and the 29th, a major earthquake hit Syria and Antioch in the Byzantine Empire, killing approximately 250000 people. The earthquake was followed by a fire that destroyed most of the buildings left standing by the earthquake. Damage estimates on the Modified Mercalli scale are; VIII Antioch, VII Dafna & Seleucia Pieria. In the port of Seleucia Pieria an uplift of 0.7–0.8 m has been estimated, and the subsequent silting up of the harbour left it unusable. It was the 3rd most deadly earthquake of all time.

    #5. 1839 India Cyclone

    Death Toll: 300,000 People


    A 40-foot storm surge from a huge cyclone that hit Coringa, India on November 25 destroyed 20,00  ships and killed approximately 300,000 people.

    #4. 1970 Bhola cyclone

    Death Toll: 500,000 People


    The 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and India’s West Bengal on November 12, 1970. It was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Up to 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and also the season’s strongest, reaching a strength equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

    #3. 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake

    Death Toll: 830,000 People

    The 1556 Shaanxi earthquake  was a catastrophic earthquake and is also the deadliest earthquake on record, killing approximately 830,000 people in China. It occurred on the morning of 23 January 1556 in Shaanxi, during the Ming Dynasty. More than 97 counties in the provinces were affected. An 840-kilometre (520 mi)-wide area was destroyed, and in some counties 60% of the population was killed. Most of the population in the area at the time lived in yaodongs, artificial caves in loess cliffs, many of which collapsed during the catastrophe with great loss of life.

    #2. 1887 Yellow River Flood

    Death Toll: 900,000–2,000,000 People


    The 1887 Yellow River flood was a devastating flood on the Yellow River in China. This river is prone to flooding due to the elevated nature of the river, running between dykes above the broad plains surrounding it. The flood that began in September 1887 devastated the area, killing some 900,000 people. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.

    #1. 1931 China Floods

    Death Toll: 1,000,000–2,500,000 People


    The 1931 Central China floods or the Central China floods of 1931 were a series of floods that occurred during the Nanjing decade in the Republic of China era. It is generally considered the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded, and almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century (when pandemics and famines are discounted) and in China. The human deaths are estimated from 1,345,000, to between 3.7 million to 4 million.

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