List of natural disasters by death toll

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A natural disaster is a sudden event that causes widespread destruction, lots of 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. In order to be classified as a disaster, it will have profound environmental effect and/or human loss and frequently incurs financial loss.

Ten deadliest natural disasters[edit]

RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
11,000,000–4,000,000*[1]1931 China floodsChinaJuly, August, 1931
2900,000–2,000,000[2]1887 Yellow River floodChinaSeptember, October, 1887
3830,000[3]1556 Shaanxi earthquakeChinaJanuary 23, 1556
4242,000–779,0001976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 28, 1976
5500,000–1,000,000[1]1970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 13, 1970
6300,000[4]1839 India CycloneIndiaNovember 25, 1839
6300,000[5]1737 Calcutta cycloneIndiaOctober 7, 1737
8273,400[6]1920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 16, 1920
9250,000–300,000[7]526 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)May 526
10260,000[8]115 Antioch earthquakeRoman Empire (now Turkey)December 13, 115

* 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.

The 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).


An alternative listing is given by Hough in his 2008 book Global Security.[9]

Ten deadliest natural disasters since 1900[edit]

RankDeath toll (estimate)Event*LocationDate
1.1,000,000–4,000,0001931 China floodsChinaJuly 1931
2.650,000–779,0001976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 1976
3.500,0001970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 1970
4.273,4001920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 1920
5.230,0002004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and TsunamiIndian Ocean26th December 2004
6.229,000Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failureChinaAugust 7, 1975
7.159,0002010 Haiti earthquakeHaitiJanuary 12th 2010
8.145,0001935 Yangtze river floodChina1935
9.142,0001923 Great Kanto earthquakeJapanSeptember 1923
10.138,8661991 Bangladesh cycloneBangladeshApril 29, 1991

Does not include industrial or technological accidents or epidemics nor the 1938 Yellow River flood.

Lists of natural disasters by cause[edit]

Ten deadliest avalanches[edit]

RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
1.20,0001970 Huascarán avalanche; triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake[10]Peru1970
2.4,0001962 Huascarán avalanche[10]Peru1962
3.265Winter of TerrorAustria-Switzerland1951
4.1722010 Salang avalanchesAfghanistan2010
5.125Kolka-Karmadon rock ice slideRussia2002
6.1022010 Kohistan avalanchePakistan2010
7.96Wellington, Washington avalancheUnited States1910
8.90Frank SlideCanada1903
9.621910 Rogers Pass avalancheCanada1910
10.591993 Bayburt Üzengili avalancheTurkey1993

Ten deadliest blizzards[edit]

RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
1.4,0001972 Iran blizzardIran1972
2.3,000Carolean Death MarchSweden/Norway1719
3.9262008 Afghanistan blizzardAfghanistan2008
4.400Great Blizzard of 1888United States1888
5.3181993 North American Storm ComplexUnited States1993
6.235Schoolhouse BlizzardUnited States1888
7.199Hakko-da Mountains incidentJapan1902
8.154North American blizzard of 1996United States1996
9.144Armistice Day BlizzardUnited States1940
10.1332008 Chinese winter stormsChina2008

Ten deadliest tropical cyclones[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.500,0001970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 13, 1970
2.300,000[4]1839 India CycloneIndiaNovember 25, 1839
2.300,000[5]1737 Calcutta cycloneIndiaOctober 7, 1737
4.229,000Super Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failureChinaAugust 7, 1975
5.200,000[11]Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876India (now Bangladesh)October 30, 1876
6.150,000 (30,000 to 300,000)[12]1881 Haiphong TyphoonVietnamOctober 8, 1881
7.138,8661991 Bangladesh cycloneBangladeshApril 29, 1991
8.138,366Cyclone NargisMyanmarMay 2, 2008
9.100,000[13]1882 Bombay cycloneIndia1882
10.80,000[14]1874 Bengal cycloneIndiaOctober, 1874

50 deadliest earthquakes[edit]

RankDeath toll (estimate around)EventLocationDate
1.830,0001556 Shaanxi earthquakeChinaJanuary 23, 1556
2.650,000–779,000[15][16][17]1976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 28, 1976
3.273,400[6]1920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 16, 1920
3.250,000–300,000[7]526 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)May 526
5.260,000[8]115 Antioch earthquakeRoman Empire (now Turkey)December 13, 115
6.230,0002004 Indian Ocean earthquakeIndonesiaDecember 26, 2004
6.230,0001138 Aleppo earthquakeZengid dynasty (now Syria)October 11, 1138
8.200,000[18]1303 Hongdong earthquakeYuan Dynasty (now China)September 17, 1303
8.200,000856 Damghan earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)December 22, 856
8.200,000[19]1780 Tabriz earthquakeIranJanuary 8, 1780
11.170,000[20]896 Udaipur earthquakeIndia896
12.159,000[21][22]2010 Haiti earthquakeHaitiJanuary 12, 2010
13.150,000893 Ardabil earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)March 23, 893
14.142,807[23][24]1923 Great Kanto earthquakeJapanSeptember 1, 1923
15.130,000[25]533 Aleppo earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Syria)November 29, 533
16.123,000[1]1908 Messina earthquakeItalyDecember 28, 1908
17.110,0001948 Ashgabat earthquakeTurkmen SSR, Soviet Union (now Turkmenistan)October 5, 1948
18.100,0001290 Chihli earthquakeYuan Dynasty (now China)September 27, 1290
18.100,0001970 Ancash earthquakePeruMay 31, 1970
18.100,000[26]2005 Kashmir earthquakePakistan (Azad Kashmir)October 8, 2005
21.87,587[27][28]2008 Sichuan earthquakeChinaMay 12, 2008
22.80,000[29]1721 Tabriz earthquakeIranApril 26, 1721
22.80,000[30]458 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)September 458
22.80,0001667 Shamakhi earthquakeSafavid dynasty (now Azerbaijan)November 1667
22.80,0001854 Great Nankaidō earthquakeJapanNovember 1854
22.80,000[31][32]1169 Aleppo earthquakeZengid dynasty (now Syria)1169
27.77,0001727 Tabriz earthquakeIranNovember 18, 1727
28.73,000[33]1718 Gansu earthquakeQing Dynasty (now China)June 19, 1718
29.70,000[34]1033 Ramala earthquakeFatimid Caliphate (now West Bank)December 10, 1033
29.70,000[35]847 Damascus earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Syria)847
29.70,000[36]1868 Ecuador earthquakesEcuadorAugust 15, 1868 and August 16, 1868
32.60,000[37]587 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)September 30, 587
32.60,000[38]1101 Khorasan earthquakeGreat Seljuq Empire (now Iran)1101
32.60,0001268 Cilicia earthquakeArmenian Kingdom of Cilicia (now Turkey)1268
32.60,0001693 Sicily earthquakeKingdom of Sicily (now Italy)January 11, 1693
32.60,0001935 Balochistan earthquakeBritish India (now part of Pakistan)May 31, 1935
37.50,000[39]844 Damascus earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Syria)September 18, 844
37.50,000[40]1042 Tabriz earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)November 4, 1042
37.50,0001783 Calabrian earthquakesKingdom of Naples (now Italy)1783
37.50,0001990 Manjil-Rudbar earthquakeIranJune 21, 1990
37.40,000–50,000[41]1755 Lisbon earthquakePortugalNovember 1, 1755
42.45,000[42]850 Iran earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)July 15, 850
42.45,000[43]856 Corinth earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Greece)November 856
42.45,000[44][45]856 Tunisia earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Tunisia)December 3, 856
45.42,571[46]1668 Shandong earthquakeQing Dynasty (now China)July 25, 1668
46.40,9001927 Gulang earthquakeGansu, China1927
47.40,000[47]342 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)342
47.40,000[48]662 Damghan earthquakeUmayyad Caliphate (now Iran)April 26, 662
47.40,000[49]1455 Naples earthquakeCrown of Aragon (now Italy)December 5, 1455
47.40,000[50]1754 Cairo earthquakeOttoman Empire (now Egypt)September 2, 1754
47.40,000[51]1755 Tabriz earthquakeIranJune 7, 1755
47.40,0001797 Riobamba earthquakeSpanish Empire (now Ecuador)1797

Ten deadliest floods / landslides[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.

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.1,000,000–4,000,000[52]1931 China floodsChina1931
2.900,000–2,000,0001887 Yellow River (Huang He) floodChina1887
3.229,000[53]Failure of 62 dams, the largest of which was Banqiao Dam, result of Typhoon Nina.China1975
4.145,0001935 Yangtze river floodChina1935
5.more than 100,000St. Felix's Flood, storm surgeNetherlands1530
6.100,000Hanoi and Red River Delta floodNorth Vietnam1971
7.up to 100,000[citation needed]1911 Yangtze River floodChina1911
8.50,000–80,000St. Lucia's flood, storm surgeNetherlands1287
9.60,000North Sea flood, storm surgeNetherlands1212
10.36,000St. Marcellus flood, storm surgeNetherlands1219

The 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).

Deadliest heat waves[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.70,0002003 European heat waveEurope2003
2.56,0002010 Russian heat waveRussia2010
3.5,000–10,0001988 United States heat waveUnited States1988
4.1,700–5,0001980 United States heat waveUnited States1980
5.1,7182010 Japanese heat waveJapan2010[54]
6.1,5002003 Southern India heat waveIndia2003[55]
7.9461955 Los Angeles heat waveUnited States1955
8.8911972 New York City heat waveUnited States1972
9.7391995 Chicago heat waveUnited States1995[56]
10.4751900 Argentina heat waveArgentina1900

Deadliest lightning strikes[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.4,000Palace of the Grand Master Explosion, RhodesGreece1856[57]
2.3,000Church of San Nazaro Explosion, BresciaItaly1769

Deadliest limnic eruptions[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.1,744Lake NyosCameroon1986
2.37Lake MonounCameroon1984

10 deadliest storms (non-cyclone)[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.15,100Torrential rains and mudslidesVenezuela1999
2.1,000Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslidesBrazil2011
3.500Lofoten, Heavy stormNorway1849
4.250Great Lakes Storm of 1913United States and Canada (Great Lakes region)1913
5.2421996 Amarnath Yatra tragedyIndia1996
6.210Trøndelag, storm ("Follastormen")Norway1625
7.189Eyemouth, Scotland, storm ("Black Friday")United Kingdom1881
8.140Trøndelag, storm ("Titran disaster")Norway1899
9.1282008 Santa Catarina floods and mudslidesBrazil2008
10.96Lofoten, stormNorway1868

10 deadliest tornadoes[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.1,300The Daulatpur-Salturia TornadoManikganj, BangladeshApril 26, 1989
2.9231969 East Pakistan TornadoEast Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh)1969
3.695The Tri-State TornadoUnited States (MissouriIllinoisIndiana)March 18, 1925
4.6811973 Dhaka TornadoBangladesh1973
5.600The Valletta, Malta TornadoMalta1551
6.500The Sicily TornadoesSicily, Two Sicilies (now Italy)1851
6.500The Narail-Magura TornadoesJessore, East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh)1964
6.500The Comoro TornadoComoro1951
9.440The Tangail TornadoBangladesh1988
10.400The Ivanovo-Yaroslavl, Russia, TornadoSoviet Union (now Russia)1984

10 deadliest tsunamis[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.230,0002004 Indian Ocean tsunamiIndonesiaDecember 26, 2004
2.123,000[1]1908 Messina earthquakeItalyDecember 28, 1908
3.36,417–120,0001883 eruption of KrakatoaIndonesiaAugust 26, 1883
4.40,000–50,000[41]1755 Lisbon earthquakePortugalNovember 1, 1755
5.30,000-100,000 (est.)Minoan EruptionGreece12nd Millennium BC
6.31,0001498 Meiō Nankaidō earthquakeJapanSeptember 20, 1498
7.30,0001707 Hōei earthquakeJapanOctober 28, 1707
8.27,122[58]1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquakeJapanJune 15, 1896
9.25,6741868 Arica earthquakeChileAugust 13, 1868
10.23,0241293 Kamakura earthquakeJapanMay 27, 1293

A 1782 possible tsunami causing about 40,000 deaths in the Taiwan Strait area may have been of "meteorological" origin (a cyclone)[59]

10 deadliest volcanic eruptions[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.92,000Mount Tambora (see also Year Without a Summer)IndonesiaApril 10, 1815
2.36,000KrakatoaIndonesiaAugust 26–27, 1883
3.33,000Mount VesuviusPompeii and Herculaneum, ItalyAugust 24, 79 A.D.
4.29,000Mount PeléeMartiniqueMay 7 or May 8, 1902
5.23,000Nevado del Ruiz (Armero tragedy)ColombiaNovember 13, 1985
6.15,000Mount UnzenJapan1792
7.12,000Mayon VolcanoPhilippines1814
8.10,000Mount KeludIndonesia1586
9.9,350Laki. Killed about 25% of the populationIcelandJune 8, 1783
10.6,000Santa MariaGuatemala1902

10 deadliest wildfires / bushfires[edit]

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.1,200–2,500Peshtigo Fire, WisconsinUnited StatesOctober 8, 1871
2.1,200Kursha-2 FireSoviet UnionAugust 3, 1936
3.453Cloquet Fire, MinnesotaUnited StatesOctober 12, 1918
4.418Great Hinckley Fire, MinnesotaUnited StatesSeptember 1, 1894
5.282Thumb Fire, MichiganUnited StatesSeptember 5, 1881
6.273Matheson Fire, OntarioCanadaJuly 29, 1916
7.240Sumatra and Kalimantan FiresIndonesia1997
8.230Landes regionFrance1949
9.213Black Dragon FireChinaMay 1987
10.173Black Saturday bushfiresAustraliaFebruary 7 – March 14, 2009

See also[edit]

Other lists organized by death toll


References[edit]

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External links[edit]