20 Deadliest Natural Disasters Ever

While humankind feels as the master of the world, we realize how small and insignificant we are when Mother Earth gets angry. Millions of people have lost their lives due to natural disasters in recorded history. Even though we currently have advanced technology, we are often unable to even take protective measures when a disaster strikes. Maybe we could learn valuable lessons from our past history and avoid making mistakes in the future. Let’s take a closer look at the 20 deadliest natural disasters that have ever occurred.


1. China Floods, 1931

Due to heavy snowfall and rainfall during the same year, the Yangtze River and Huai flooded large parts of Central China. The death toll was estimated to be between 1 and 4 million people. To date, this is the worst natural disaster.

2. Shaanxi Earthquake, 1556

It happened in Shaanxi Province in Northern China and took the lives of some 830,000 people, well over half of the entire population of the province. It is regarded to be deadliest earthquake in human history. Its magnitude was estimated to be approximately 8 M.

3. Yellow River Flood, 1887

The flood covered some 50,000 square miles and swept across eleven large towns and numerous smaller settlements. It is estimated to have taken the lives of up to 2 million people. This makes it one of the worst floods ever.

4. Tangshan Earthquake, 1976

It had a magnitude of 7.8 M and affected a large number of provinces in China. It is estimated to have killed between 242,000 and 655,000 people. This is the worst earthquake of the 20th century based on death toll.

5. Bhola Cyclone, 1970

The cyclone struck Bangladesh and West Bengal in India in November 1970 killing approximately 450,000 people. The peak wind speed was 115 mph. The flood which followed was primarily responsible for the death toll.

6. Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, 2004

This is the deadliest natural disaster since the beginning of the 2000’s. The earthquake epicenter was off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia and the magnitude was between 9.1 and 9.3 M. In addition to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were countries most affected by it and the following tsunami. 280,000 people lost their lives.

7. India Cyclone, 1839

A wave, which was 40 feet high, struck the coast of Andhra Pradesh in India hitting a harbor village. The death toll was 300,000 with 20,000 of the victims drowning at sea. This is one of the deadliest cyclones in recorded history.

8. Antioch Earthquake, 526 AD

The earthquake affected parts of modern-day Syria and Turkey and its epicenter was near the city of Antioch. Sources at the time reported between 250,000 and 300,000 thousand victims. The death toll from the earthquake in the city rose due to the fire which started afterwards.

9. Typhoon Nina, 1975

The cyclone affected parts of China and Taiwan and caused the collapsing of the Banqiao Dam. The natural disaster killed some 229,00 people. This makes is the fourth worth cyclone ever recorded.

10. Haiti Earthquake, 2010

This is the second worst natural disaster since the beginning of the 21th century. It affected the small Caribbean country of Haiti with a magnitude of 7 M and took the lives of 160,000 people leaving many other homeless.

11. Calcutta Cyclone, 1737

The cyclone hit the Indian city with great force and destroyed ships and homes. Sources claimed that some 300,000 people had died during the natural disaster. This makes it one of the worst in human history.

12. Yangtze River Flood, 1935

The flood killed some 145,000 people in China. Even though such floods are annual, in 1935 the death toll was much higher than the average. This is what made this flood the seventh most disastrous one in recorded history.

13. Aleppo Earthquake, 1138

Even though most of the population of Aleppo, the largest city in proximity to the epicenter now in modern-day Syria, had fled it, the earthquake still resulted in high death toll. Records reveal that some 230,000 people lost their lives.

14. European Heat Wave, 2003

For seven days, the temperatures in Western and most parts of Northern Europe were above 40 °C (104 °F). Hundreds of thousands of people were hospitalized and 70,000 found their death during the most devastating heat wave in recorded history.

15. Haiyuan Earthquake, 1920

The epicenter of the earthquake was in Haiyuan County in China. It had a magnitude of 7.8 M. It affected several neighboring counties too. The total death tool reached 273,400 people.

16. Bangladesh Cyclone, 1991

The category-5 storm hit the coasts of Bangladesh with winds of 155 mph. This is the seventh most disastrous cyclone in history. The exact number of people who lost their lives was 138,866. 10 million were left homeless.

17. Crete Earthquake and Tsunami, 365 AD

The earthquake, whose epicenter was off the coast of the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, caused the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. The number of casualties is estimated to have been between 300,000 and 500,000. Most of the towns on the island were destroyed.

18. Eruption of Mount Tambora, 1815

This is the worst volcanic eruption recorded to date. The Mount Tambora Volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa erupted in April 1815 and continued to produce steam for some three years after the event. The eruption caused the death of 92,000 people and affected temperature levels across the entire planet.

19. Haiphong Typhoon, 1881

It struck parts of modern-day Vietnam and The Philippines killing somewhere between 30,000 and 300,000 people based on different historic records. It is considered to be the third deadliest tropical cyclone which has ever occured.

20. St. Felix’s Flood, 1553

This flood affected a large part of the Netherlands killing some 100,000 people. It is the fifth worst flood in recorded history, even though it was one of the series of many affecting this country, most of whose territory is practically below sea level.

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