List of disasters in Australia by death toll

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This is a list of disasters in modern Australia sorted by death toll.

100 or more[edit]

Disaster Location Deaths Date Notes
Australian frontier wars Australia-wide 22500+ 1788–1930 Australian frontier wars; approximate death toll on both sides.
Epidemic Australia-wide 12000+ 1918–1919 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic; approximate death toll. Sydney was the worst affected area.[1]
Epidemic Australia-wide 1013 1946–1955 Polio epidemic.[2]
Sea battle Indian Ocean, near Shark Bay 727 19 November 1941 Battle between HMAS Sydney and German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. Both ships sank; all 645 aboard Sydney were killed, along with 82 personnel from Kormoran.[3][4]
Epidemic Australia-wide 550 1900–1910 Bubonic plague.[5]
Heat wave Victoria 438 Dec 1938 – Feb 1939 Heatwave killed 438 and sparked the Black Friday bushfires (see below).[6]
Heat wave South-eastern Australia 437 1895–1896 Widespread heatwave killed 437, including 47 in Bourke, New South Wales.[7]
Cyclone Bathurst Bay, Queensland 410 4 March 1899 Cyclone Mahina; estimated toll.[8]
Shipwreck King Island, Tasmania 406 1845 Cataraqui. Australia's worst maritime civil disaster incident.[9]
Heatwave South-eastern Australia 374 25 January to 9 February 2009 2009 Southeastern Australia heat wave. A nine-day heatwave with Adelaide recording six consecutive days over 40 °C (104 °F), a high of 45.7 °C (114.3 °F) and a record overnight minimum of 33.9 °C (93.0 °F) on 28 January.[10][11] Sparked the Black Saturday bushfires (see below). Health authorities attribute 374 deaths to the Heatwave[12]
Shipwreck coast near Murchison River, Western Australia 286 April 1712 Sinking of Dutch ship Zuytdorp. There has been speculation that there were survivors, who may have been assisted by local Aborigines.[13][14]
Sinking Off North Stradbroke Island, Queensland 268 14 May 1943 Sinking of AHS Centaur. Hospital ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.[15]
Heat wave Southern states 246 December 1907 – January 1908 [16]
Air raids Darwin, Northern Territory 243 19 February 1942 First bombings of Darwin. The first Japanese air raids against Australia. The toll may have been higher, itinerants and Aboriginal persons may be under-represented in the official count.[17]
Prison break Cowra, New South Wales 235–238 5 August 1944 Cowra breakout. Escape by Japanese POWs.[18][19]
Shipwreck King Island, Tasmania 224 13 May 1835 Neva[20][21]
Shipwreck Western Australia 212 1726 Aagtekerke. Possibly WA, but there is some doubt on this.[22]
Shipwreck Ledge Point, Western Australia 186 April 1656 Vergulde Draeck[23]
Bushfires Victoria 173 February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires[24]
Cyclone/Sinking Western Australia 149 1 March 1912 SS Koombana[25][26]
Heatwaves Australia-wide 147 1920–1921 [27]
Heatwaves Australia-wide 143+ 1911–1912 [28]
Cyclone Broome, Western Australia 141 March 1935 Pearling fleet devastated[29]
Cyclone Eighty Mile Beach, Western Australia 140 1884 Pearling fleet sunk[30]
Shipwreck D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania 133 12 April 1835 George III[31]
Shipwreck Cape York, Queensland 133 28 February 1890 RMS Quetta[32]
Heatwave Southern states 130 1926–1927 [33]
Shipwreck/mutiny/
massacre
Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia 125+ June–July 1629 Sinking of the Dutch ship Batavia, after which mutineers murdered 125 other passengers. The death toll of 125 does not include the mutineers, of whom seven were immediately hanged and two cast away when the passengers were rescued. Most of the remaining mutineers were later executed.[34]
Heatwave Australia-wide 122+ 1913–1914 [35]
Cyclone/Sinking North-eastern Queensland 122 16 March 1911 SS Yongala[36]
Shipwreck Sydney, New South Wales 121 20 August 1857 Dunbar. 1 survivor.[37]
Heatwave Australia-wide 112 1939–1940 [38]
Heatwave Australia-wide 109 1909–1910 [39]
Heatwave Southern regions, Australia 105+ 1959 One source puts death toll at 145[40][41][42]
Cyclone/sinking Ayr, Queensland 102–112 24 February 1875 SS Gothenburg. Records of passengers vary[43][44][45]

50 to 99 deaths[edit]

Disaster Location Deaths Date Notes
Heatwave Southern regions Australia 99 December 1972 to February 1973 [46]
Cyclone Northern Queensland 99 March 1934 Cyclone and 9.1 m storm surge[47]
Explosion Mount Kembla, New South Wales 96 31 July 1902 Mount Kembla Mine disaster. Coal mine gas explosion[48]
Shipwreck Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia 93 23 April 1622 Tryall. Earliest recorded Australian shipwreck[49]
Flood Gundagai, New South Wales 89 24 June 1852 [50]
Shipwreck near Carpenter Rocks, in South East South Australia 89 6 August 1859 SS Admella.[51] South Australia's worst loss of life
Air raid Broome, Western Australia 88 3 March 1942 Air raid on Broome. Japanese fighter planes strafed the town. Official toll; may not include some refugees from the Dutch East Indies.
Rail accident Sydney, New South Wales 83 18 January 1977 Granville railway disaster. Derailment followed by bridge collapse
Sinking twenty miles south-east of Jervis Bay, New South Wales 82 10 February 1964 Melbourne–Voyager collisionHMAS Voyager sank after collision with HMAS Melbourne
Explosion Bulli, New South Wales 81 23 March 1887 Bulli Colliery coal mine gas explosion[52]
Shipwreck King Island, Tasmania 79 23 May 1874 British Admiral[53]
Cyclone Queensland coast, particularly Innisfail 77+ 10 March 1918 Cyclone and storm surge with death toll estimated between 77 and 100.[54]
Storms New South Wales between Port Stephens and Sydney 77 12 July 1866 60 lives lost on SS Cawarra alone.[55]
Explosion Mount Mulligan, Queensland 76 16 September 1921 Mount Mulligan coal dust explosion[56]
Bushfire Victoria and South Australia 75 16 February 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires[57]
Shipwreck Green Cape 71 31 May 1886 Ly-Ee-Moon[58]
Bushfire Victoria 71 13 January 1939 Black Friday bushfires
Cyclone Darwin 71 24 December 1974 Cyclone Tracy destroys the city of Darwin. On 17 March 2005, a Northern Territory Coroner's Inquest outcome increased the official death toll from 65 to 71.[59]
Flood Clermont, Queensland 65 27 December 1916 [60]
Bushfire Tasmania 62 1967 1967 Tasmanian fires
Cyclone near Roebourne and Geraldton, Western Australia 61–71 1894 Estimated toll includes those lost at sea and those killed in flooding at Geraldton[61]
Shipwreck Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia 60 1727 Zeewyk. Approximate death toll[62]
Shipwreck Newcastle, New South Wales 60 12 July 1866 SS Cawarra;; sank during storm in Newcastle Harbour.
Bushfire Victoria 60 February–March 1926 [63]
Cyclone Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia 59–69 1875–1876 Most casualties were at sea[64][65]
Shipwreck Mutton Bird Island, off the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria 53 1 June 1878 Loch Ard. Sources vary on exact death toll (2 survivors).[66][67]
Bushfire Victoria 51 1943–1944 [68]
Shipwreck Brisbane, Queensland 50 February 1896 Capsize of the ferry ''Pearl''[69]
Cyclone Around Broome, Western Australia 50 1908 [70]

10 to 49 deaths[edit]

[85][86]

Disaster Location Deaths Date Notes
Cyclonic effects North coast, New South Wales 46 1923 [71]
Rail accident Sunshine, Victoria 44 1908 Sunshine rail disaster. Rear end collision
Fire Queenstown, Tasmania 42+ 1912 1912 North Mount Lyell Disaster. Mine fire. True toll may be higher due to subsequent deaths from the effects of the fire[72]
Sinking Sydney 40–42 3 November 1927 Sydney ferry disaster[73][74]
Shipwreck near Edithburgh, South Australia 40 31 January 1909 SS Clan Ranald[75][76]
Air Disaster near Mackay, Queensland 40 14 June 1943 Bakers Creek air crash. USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress crashes shortly after take-off.[77]
Flooding Queensland 38 + 6 missing presumed dead December 2010 – January 2011 2010–2011 Queensland floods
Shipwreck Cardwell, Queensland 36 1872 Shipwreck Maria. Some of the survivors were killed by Aborigines although others were helped[78][79]
Shipwreck Jervis Bay, New South Wales, 35 1 September 1876 The steamer Dandenong lost during severe storm.[80]
Shipwreck Cheviot Beach, Victoria 35 20 October 1887 SS Cheviot
Flood Melbourne suburbs and Southern Victoria 35 29 November to 1 December 1934 Torrential rainfall of up to 350 mm. Yarra River becomes raging torrent. Extensive damage with 35 dead, 250 injured, and 3,000 homeless.[81][82]
Bridge collapse Melbourne 35 15 October 1970 West Gate Bridge. 35 construction workers died due to a collapse during construction[83]
Road accident Kempsey, New South Wales 35 22 December 1989 Kempsey bus crash. Two tourist coaches collided head-on[84]
Shooting Port Arthur, Tasmania 35 28 April 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
Shipwreck near Southend, south east South Australia 31 14 June 1876 Geltwood. Wreck not found for two weeks. No survivors.[87][88]
Shipwreck off Wilsons Promontory in Bass Strait 31 1 December 1935 SS Paringa Sunk during storm while towing another vessel. All officers and crew lost.[89][90]
Cyclone Queensland coast, particularly Mackay 30 January 1918 Mackay Cyclone[54][91]
Air accident York near Perth 29 26 June 1950 1950 Australian National Airways Douglas DC-4 crash.[92]
Fire Melbourne 30 13 August 1966 William Booth Memorial Hostel fire. Convalescent home for men[93]
Air accident Mackay 29 10 June 1960 Trans Australia Airlines Flight 538 crashed into sea.
Cyclone/sinking. Western Australia 29 April 1991 Cyclone Fife. 27 lost in shipwreck of Mineral Diamond[94][95]
Massacre Myall Creek, near Inverell, New South Wales 28 9 June 1838 Myall Creek massacre. 28 Aboriginal people killed by white stockmen[96]
Riot and insurrection Ballarat, Victoria 28 3 December 1854 Eureka Stockade. Exact death toll remains unknown.
Cyclone Darwin, Northern Territory 28 January 1897 [97][98]
Shipwreck Kangaroo Island, South Australia 27 September 1905 Loch Vennachar[99]
Sea battle Port Jackson 27 31 May–1 June 1942 Attack on Sydney Harbour. Japanese submarine attack on allied shipping. Death toll include attackers.
Air accident Cleveland Bay, Townsville, Queensland 27 7 August 1943 C-47 Dakota plane crash. Plane crashed after takeoff.[100]
Shipwreck/Massacre Coorong, South Australia 26 1840 Maria. Survivors murdered.[101][102] Exactly what took place remains controversial.[citation needed]
Explosion Wagga Wagga, New South Wales 26 21 May 1945 Kapooka Army Base soldiers received instruction of demolition work in a bunker which was 3 metres (9.8 ft) below the ground when an explosion took place which resulted in Australia's largest military funeral.[103][104]
Cyclone Gold Coast and northern New South Wales 26 February 1954 [105]
Air accident Port Hedland, Western Australia 26 31 December 1968 In-flight break up of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Flight 1750 (Vickers Viscount)[106]
Rail accident Wodonga, Victoria 25 1943 Train hit bus carrying army personnel[107]
Air accident Seven-Mile Beach, near Hobart 25 March 1946 1946 Australian National Airways DC-3 crashed into the sea.[40]
Flood Hunter Valley, New South Wales 25 February 1955 1955 Hunter Valley floods. Most deaths were around Singleton and Maitland, but most other river systems in the state were also in flood.[108][109]
Shipwreck Gosford 24 6 May 1898 Maitland[110]
Air accident Winton, Queensland 24 22 September 1966 Ansett-ANA Viscount disaster. Flight 149 en route Mount IsaLongreach
Air accident Kudjeru Gap, in the Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea 24 August 1972 RAAF Caribou aircraft crashes in rugged mountainous country en route from Lae to Port Moresby, killing 24 of the 28 people on board.
Bushfire Southern regions of Victoria 23 January 1969 280 fires. 17 casualties at Lara[111]
Mine disaster Creswick, Central Victoria 22 12 December 1882 New Australasia gold mine. 44 miners trapped when a flooded mine shaft is breached. 22 men drown.[112]
Flood Northern Tasmania 22 April 1929 Eight drowned when truck ploughed into river and 14 died when dam collapsed and wall swept into town[113]
Heatwave South-east Queensland 22 January 2000 [114]
Shipwreck off Gabo Island, Bass Strait 21 1 March 1901 SS Federal vanished without trace. All crewmembers lost.[115][116]
Air accident Coolangatta, Queensland 21 10 March 1949 1949 Queensland Airlines Lockheed Lodestar crash – aircraft crashed shortly after take-off due to incorrect loading.[117]
Shipwreck Smokey Cape, New South Wales 21 25 August 1969 Noongah sank
Road accident Grafton, New South Wales 21 20 October 1989 Grafton bus crash. A head-on collision between a tourist coach and a truck.[118]
Air accident Mossman, Queensland 20 7 September 1944 Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force Douglas C-47 Dakota crashes en route between Merauke, Dutch East Indies and Cairns.
Shipwreck Trial Bay, New South Wales 19–21 September 1816 [119]
Fire Kings Cross, New South Wales 19 25 August 1981 Rembrant Hotel.[120]
Shipwreck Adelaide, South Australia 18+ 13 July 1888 Star of Greece. Exact number of lives lost uncertain.[121]
Air accident Dandenongs, Victoria 18 25 October 1938 1938 Kyeema crash
Air accident Perth Airport 18 2 July 1949 1949 MacRobertson Miller Aviation DC-3 crash – aircraft crashed a minute after take-off, killing all 18 people on board.[122]
Road accident Tumut Pond, New South Wales 18 1 September 1973 Brake failure caused bus to plummet into reservoir[123]
Air accident Townsville, Queensland 18 12 June 1996 Two Army Blackhawk helicopters collided[124]
Landslide Thredbo, New South Wales 18 30 July 1997 1997 Thredbo landslide
Rail accident Brooklyn, New South Wales 17 1944 Train ploughed into bus at Hawkesbury River station[125]
Rail accident Wasleys Crossing, near Gawler, South Australia 17 12 April 1970 Wasleys Crossing (Gawler) disaster. Bus collided with a passenger train[126]
Explosion Ipswich, Queensland 17 31 July 1972 Mine gas explosion in the Box Flat Colliery[127]
Heatwave South-Eastern regions, Australia 17 February 1993 Possibility of additional unreported deaths[128]
Shipwreck Bass Strait Victorian coast 16 29 November 1934 SS Coramba left Warrnambool for Melbourne and was never seen again. Believed lost during storm.[129][130]
Rail accident Camp Mountain, Queensland 16 5 May 1947 Camp Mountain train disaster. A crowded picnic train derailed on bend
Fire Sylvania Heights, New South Wales 16 29 April 1981 Pacific Nursing Home fire.[131]
Shipwreck near Cape Schanck, Victoria 15 28 December 1893 SS Alert
Air accident Botany Bay, New South Wales 15 30 November 1961 Ansett-ANA Flight 325Vickers Viscount aeroplane crash. All on board died.[132]
Fire Fortitude Valley, Queensland 15 8 March 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go fire. Arson
Fire Kings Cross, New South Wales 15 25 December 1975 Savoy Hotel fire. Arson[133]
Cyclone/Sinking near Carnarvon, Western Australia 15 1979 Cyclone Hazel[134]
Heatwave South-eastern regions of Australia 15 February 1981 [135]
Fire Childers, Queensland 15 June 2000 Robert Long received a life sentence for starting the Childers Palace backpackers hostel fire[136][137]
Air accident Lockhart River, Queensland 15 7 May 2005 In the Lockhart River air disaster an aeroplane crashed on approach to land, killing all on board.[138]
Bushfire Dandenong Ranges and Lara, Victoria 14* 14–16 January 1962 Casualty numbers vary between 9,[139] 14,[40][140] and 32.[111][141]
Bushfires Sydney, Blue Mountains and Illawarra, New South Wales 14* January 1968 *Sources vary on death toll but most say 14.[142]
Cyclone Whitsunday Islands, Queensland 14 January 1970 Cyclone Ada
Cyclone Brisbane, Queensland 14 27 January 1974 1974 Brisbane flood. Cyclone Wanda[143]
Explosion Appin, New South Wales 14 24 July 1979 Appin Colliery Gas Explosion during a pre-planned ventilation change.[144]
Explosion Wonthaggi, Victoria 13 15 February 1937 Dalyson Colliery[145]
Air accident Tamworth, New South Wales 13 January 1960 [40]
Explosion Kianga, near Moura, Queensland 13 20 September 1975 Kianga Mine explosion[146]
Air accident Sydney Airport 13 21 February 1980 Light aircraft suffers engine failure[147]
Air accident near Alice Springs, Northern Territory 13 13 August 1989 1989 Alice Springs hot air balloon crash[148]
Earthquake Newcastle, New South Wales 13 28 December 1989 1989 Newcastle earthquake
Bushfire Victoria – Portland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, Wimmera and Dandenong districts 12* 6 February 1851 "Black Thursday" bushfires. *Approximately 12 fatalities, one million sheep, thousands of cattle, 50,000 km² burnt.[149]
Flood Windsor, New South Wales 12 21 June 1867 12 members of the Eather family swept away in flood.[150]
Shipwreck Calgardup Bay, Western Australia 12 1 December 1876 SS Georgette[151]
Bushfire Gippsland, Victoria 12 1 February 1898 "Red Tuesday" bushfires. 2,600 km² burnt, 12 people killed, 2,000 buildings destroyed.[149]
Bridge collapse Hobart, Tasmania 12 5 January 1975 Tasman Bridge disaster. The bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra collided with the bridge, causing a section to fall onto the vessel. 7 crewmen died as the ship sank. 5 people perished as their cars plummeted off the edge.
Air accident Adavale, Queensland 12 28 August 1983 Charter flight broke up in flight and crashed.
Explosion Moura, Queensland 12 16 July 1986 Explosion in Moura No 4 Mine[152]
Fire Dungog, New South Wales 12 2 August 1991 Palm Grove Hostel fire[153]
Serial killing Remains discovered in Snowtown, South Australia 12 1992–1999 Snowtown murders.[154]
Road accident Boondall, Queensland 12 1 October 1994 Boondall bus crash[155]
Rail accident Near Horsham, Victoria 11 24 February 1951 A train collides with a bus at a level crossing.[156]
Air accident Mount Emerald, Queensland 11 11 May 1990 Cessna 500 jet aircraft collided with terrain 15 km south of Mareeba Airfield.[157]
Explosion Moura, Queensland 11 7 August 1994 Explosion in Moura No 2 Mine[158]
Rail accident Near Kerang, Victoria 11 5 June 2007 Kerang train crash. A V/Line train collides with a truck at a level crossing.[159]
Fire Kingston, Queensland 11 24 August 2011 House fire[160]
Fire Quakers Hill, New South Wales 11* 18 November 2011 Quakers Hill Nursing Home fire. As of 9 January 2012, NSW health officials claimed a total of 21 out of 96 residents died but police could only conclusively prove 11 perished directly as a result of the fire.[161][162]
Heatwave Eastern and Southern regions Australia 10+ January–February 1997 Strong likelihood of additional unreported deaths[163]
Rail accident Near Traveston railway station, Queensland 10 9 June 1925 10 died and 48 injured when a passenger carrige and luggage van of the Rockhampton Mail plunged off a high trestle bridge.[164]
Air accident Canberra 10 13 August 1940 Senior War Cabinet Ministers, Chief of Staff and others killed when their plane crashed in fine weather.
Air accident Near Redesdale, Victoria 10 31 January 1945 Crash of Stinson Tokana caused by fatigue crack in wing spar.
Bushfire Victoria 10 January 1965 [165]
Massacre South Australia 10 September 1971 Clifford Bartholomew, Father, kills 10 members of his family[166]
Storm/Flood Hunter and Central Coast regions, New South Wales 10 8–11 June 2007 Storm and flooding[167]

Significant incidents resulting in fewer than 10 deaths[edit]

Disaster Location Deaths Date Notes
Rail accident Violet Town, Victoria 9 7 February 1969 Violet Town rail accident. Head on collision after driver died at controls.[168]
Fire Kings Cross, New South Wales 9 August 1981 Rembrandt Apartments Hostel Fire. Fire.[169]
Air accident Williamtown, NSW-Lord Howe Island 9 2 October 1994 Seaview Air Aero Commander 690 crashes between Williamtown, NSW and Lord Howe Island.[170]
Landslide Gracetown, Western Australia 9 27 September 1996 5 adults and 4 children died when a cliff face collapsed at Cowaramup Bay near Gracetown (Margaret River)[171][172]
Bushfire Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 9 11 January 2005 Eyre Peninsula bushfire.[173]
Air accident Snowy Mountains, New South Wales 8 21 March 1931 Southern Cloud
Bushfire Wandilo, South Australia 8 April 1958 8 firefighters died[174]
Bushfire Western Victoria 8 February 1977 Around Streatham was the worst affected area.[175]
Air accident Off Whyalla, South Australia 8 31 May 2000 Whyalla Airlines Disaster. All on board drowned, one body was never recovered.
Explosion Off Dampier, Western Australia 8 18 November 2001 Nigo Kim cargo ship explosion.[176]
Serial killing Near Berrima, New South Wales 7+ 1989–1994 Backpacker Murders. The remains of seven backpackers found in the Belanglo State Forest; the killer remains the prime suspect for another 16 unsolved murders and is a person of interest for another 14. There is evidence he may not have acted alone.
Flood Canberra 7 26 January 1971 1971 Canberra flood. Seven motorists were killed when their cars were swept into a creek.[40]
Serial killing Near Truro, South Australia 7 1976–1977 Truro murders. Remains of seven young women found in bushland.
Fire Sydney 7 9 June 1979 Fire engulfs the Ghost Train ride at Luna Park Sydney. May have been arson.[177]
Massacre Milperra, New South Wales 7 2 September 1984 Milperra massacre. Shooting massacre
Massacre Clifton Hill, Victoria 7 9 August 1987 Hoddle Street massacre. Shooting massacre
Massacre Melbourne 9 8 December 1987 Queen Street massacre. Shooting massacre
Flood Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria 7 1990 Nyngan and Charleville Flood. More than a million square kilometres of flooding.[178]
Massacre Strathfield, New South Wales 7 17 August 1991 Strathfield massacre
Massacre Terrigal, Central Coast NSW 7 1992 Central Coast Massacre. Shooting massacre
Cyclone Around Cairns, Queensland 7 March 1997 Cyclone Justin. 1 death from landslide. There were also 26 deaths from the same cyclone in Papua New Guinea.[179]
Rail accident Glenbrook, New South Wales 7 December 1999 Glenbrook train disaster. Collision by a CityRail Intercity train into the rear wagon of an Indian Pacific train after "Stop and Proceed".
Heatwave around Adelaide, South Australia 7 February 2000 [180]
Rail accident Waterfall, New South Wales 7 January 2003 Waterfall rail accident. Excessive speed resulting in derailment after driver died at the controls and 'dead man' safety device failed to function.[181]
Industrial accident Spotswood, Victoria 6 1895 Spotswood Sewer Disaster. The drilling of an underground sewer in Melbourne went too close to the Yarra River.[182]
Massacre Alligator Creek near Mackay, Queensland 6 17 November 1911 A mother and five children were murdered in their home.[183]
Battle Broken Hill, New South Wales 6 1 January 1915 Battle of Broken Hill. Two Indian immigrants open fire on a train carrying picnickers.[184]
Landslide Between Blackwood, South Australia and Belair, South Australia 6 31 January 1928 Hills Railway line disaster. Railway embankment collapsed during tunnel demolition.[185]
Flood Kempsey, Macleay Vallie 6 Friday, 26 August 1949 Six people died in the flood, five in Kempsey. A 13-year-old boy at Smithtown[186]
Flood Sydney and Penrith, New South Wales 6 February to March 1978 [187]
Air accident Essendon, Victoria 6 10 July 1978 Aircraft with a crew of two and one passenger crashed into houses shortly after take off from Essendon Airport. 6 members of one family were killed.[188]
Serial killing Tynong North and Frankston, Victoria 6 December 1980 Remains found in bushland. Investigation still open.[189][190]
Flood Hawkesbury, New South Wales 6 August 1986 Hawkesbury and Georges River Flood.[191]
Air accident Essendon, Victoria 6 3 September 1986 Air Ambulance Cessna (call signal RED) crashed on take off from Essendon Airport after single engine failure.[192]
Fire Kings Cross, New South Wales 6 17 September 1989 Downunder Hostel fire. Arson attack.[193]
Flood/cyclone Southern Queensland and northern New South Wales 6 February 1990 Drowning deaths caused by Cyclone Nancy[194]
Rail accident Brooklyn, New South Wales 6 6 May 1990 Commuter train crashed into a stalled chartered steam train.[195]
Maritime accident Tasman Sea 6 1998 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. 5 boats sank and 6 people died.
Road accident Cardross, near Mildura, Victoria 6 18 February 2006 Cardross road accident. Car ploughs into group of teenagers, driver flees
Sinking Sydney Harbour 6 1 May 2008 6 killed and 9 injured when two boats collided.[196]
Road accident Penshurst 6 11 November 2011 A car and truck collided and subsequently caught fire at an intersection near Penshurst. Four occupants of the car died at the scene, along with the truck driver, and a fifth occupant of the car died later in hospital.[197]
Air accident Near Gympie, Queensland 6 1 October 2012 De Havilland DH84 Dragon crashed in dense bushland, killing all six on board.[198]
Heatwave Southern South Australia and northern Victoria 5+ January 1990 Likelihood of additional unreported deaths.[199]
Sinking North of Bermagui, New South Wales 5 9 October 1880 Mystery Bay disappearance. Crew of 5 men in a small boat disappears off the NSW south coast. Boat found at Mutton Fish Point (now Mystery Bay) with some of the crews belongings.
Landslide Cairns, Queensland 5 31 May 1900 Riverstone landslide. Tramway cutting caves in on workers[200]
Air accident Nhill, Victoria 5 13 May 1943 Avro Anson During a training mission from Mt Gambier to Nhill crashed in fog just 8 miles north east of Nhill.[201]
Rail accident Sydenham, New South Wales 5 1953 Sydenham rail disaster. Wrong-side failure causes rear end collision of two trains
Suicide air attack Alice Springs Airport 5 5 January 1977 Connellan air disaster A disgruntled ex-employee deliberately flew light aircraft into Connellan Airways building. Roger Connellan, son of the company's founder, was among those killed.
Mass Murder Inland Motel at the base of Uluru 5 18 August 1983 Douglas Crabbe rammed his 25-ton Mack truck through the wall of the motel's bar.[202]
Prison Revolt Pentridge Prison, Melbourne 5 29 October 1987 Five prisoners die in fire in Jika Jika Maximum Security Wing. Fire was started by inmates as a protest.[203]
Air accident Off East Sale, Victoria 5 29 October 1991 RAAF Boeing 707 crash.[204]
Heatwave Townsville region 5 January 1994 [205]
Bushfire Linton, Victoria 5 1998 Linton bushfire. Wildfire engulfs five volunteer firefighters.[206]
Air accident Willowbank, Queensland 5 2 January 2006 Skydiving Cessna 206 plane crash.[207]
Massacre North Epping, New South Wales 5 18 July 2009 Lin family murders
Air Accident Caboolture Airfield, Caboolture, Queensland 5 22 March 2014 Skydiving Cessna 206 plane crash.[208]
Flood/cyclone North and Central Coast, Queensland 4–5 December 1990 and January 1991 Extensive damage from flooding caused by Cyclone Joy[209][210]
Heatwave Melbourne 4+ December 1990 Likelihood of additional unreported deaths[211]
Sinking Cairns, Queensland 4 13 September 1947 HMAS Warrnambool. Sunk while clearing minefields after World War II.[212]
Bushfire Eastern Seaboard, New South Wales 4 January 1994 Over 800 bushfires. 4 of the dead were firefighters[213]
Flood Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales 4 May 1996 [214]
Fire Indian Ocean 4 5 May 1998 HMAS Westralia. Unsuitable fuel hose in engine room bursts, spraying diesel which ignites, creating a fireball below deck.[215]
Mining accident Parkes, New South Wales 4 25 November 1999 A gust of air made its way along the access tunnel causing a truck to roll over two, while falling rocks killed the other pair.
Air accident Newman, Western Australia 4 26 January 2001 Fuel starvation on Western Australia Police aircraft.[216]
Landslide Cradle Mountain National Park 4 18 February 2001 4 people died when landslide causes a bus to fall into a ravine[217]
Air accident Toowoomba, Queensland 4 27 November 2001 Plane hit powerlines[218]
Rail accident Salisbury railway station, Adelaide 4 24 October 2002 The Ghan passenger train hit a car and a bus at a busy level crossing at Salisbury, in Adelaide's north.[219]
Bushfire Canberra 4 18 January 2003 2003 Canberra bushfires. Bushfire reaches capital city suburbs[220]
Sinking Sydney Harbour 4 28 March 2007 HarbourCat ferry Pam Burridge collides with pleasure cruiser Merinda.[221][222]
Massacre Stringybark Creek, Victoria 3 26 October 1878 3 Policemen murdered by outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang.[223]
Fire/explosion Port Adelaide, South Australia 3 26 April 1924 Three firemen died after the SS City of Singapore, fully loaded with flammable cargo, caught fire and exploded. 10 other people were injured.
Air accident Tambo, Queensland 3 24 March 1927 Qantas de Havilland DH-9C crash[224]
Serial killing Melbourne 3 May 1942 Three Australian women were murdered in Melbourne between 3 and 18 May 1942 by US soldier Eddie Leonski who was convicted and executed in November that year.[225]
Air accident Maroochydore, Queensland 3 30 December 1950 A routine shark patrol during the Christmas holidays, crashed into a crowded beach killing 3 children and injuring 14 others.
Cyclone Townsville, Queensland 3 December 1971 Cyclone Althea. Cyclone and storm surge.[40]
Terrorism Sydney 3 13 February 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing. Bomb explosion outside Sydney Hilton Hotel during the CHOGRM[226]
Cyclone south of Innisfail, Queensland 3 February 1986 Category 3 Cyclone Winifred in region from Cairns to Ingham.[40][227]
Bushfire Ferny Creek, Victoria, 3 21 January 1997 3 dead in bushfire lit by arsonist.
Flood Katherine, Northern Territory 3 January 1998 Flooding cause by ex-tropical cyclone Les.[40]
Severe storm Hunter Region, New South Wales, Sydney and central western regions 3 November 2001 [228]
Road accident/fire Melbourne 3 23 March 2007 Burnley Tunnel Fire. Traffic accident resulting in explosion and fire.[229]
Bushfire Boorabbin National Park, Western Australia 3 27 December 2009 Three men were killed and one man injured when a bushfire in the Boorabbin National Park rapidly changed direction while their trucks were attempting to pass the blaze.
Air accident Lake Eyre, South Australia 3 19 August 2011 Three men, including journalist Paul Lockyer, were killed when an ABC helicopter crashed whilst filming a documentary on un-usual flooding occurring at Lake Eyre.[230]
Riot Young, New South Wales 2* 30 June 1861 Lambing Flat Riots. Over 3,000 European gold diggers attacked Chinese settlement on gold-fields. *Official death toll was two Chinese killed, but eyewitness accounts claimed that actual death toll possibly as high as 40.[231]
Air Accident North Melbourne 2 4 September 1943 An RAAF Vultee Vengeance crashed near Macaulay railway station after giving aerial demonstration over Flemington racecourse. Both crew on board were killed.[232]
Air Accident Bluff Downs, Queensland 2 9 April 1984 Two RAAF Mirage fighter jets collided in mid-air. [233]
Industrial Explosion Longford, Victoria 2 25 September 1998 a large explosion at an Esso operated oil and natural gas processing plant was responsible for an almost complete shutdown of Victoria's natural gas supply for weeks thereafter. At 12:25 pm 25 September 1998 the weld on GP905 cracked and the exchanger failed catastrophically instantly killing two people.[234]
Bushfire Grampians, Victoria 2 22 January 2006 A father and son died in a bushfire in Victoria's west.
Rail Accident Trawalla, Victoria 2 28 April 2006 2 people killed in level-crossing train accident at Trawalla, near Beaufort, Victoria[235]
Electrical Accident Rainbow, Victoria 2 16 March 2010 Father and son killed on their farm whilst moving a windmill which touched overhead power lines. Two other people badly injured. [236]
Avalanche Mt Bogong, Victoria 2 10 July 2014 Two snowboarders buried in avalanche. [237]
Riot Brisbane, Queensland 1 26-27 November 1942 Battle of Brisbane. Street brawling and rioting between Australian and US military personnel. One Australian soldier was killed, over 20 Australian and US soldiers badly injured.[238]
Hailstorm Sydney, New South Wales 1 14 April 1999 1999 Sydney hailstorm; most costly single natural disaster in Australia's history, with A$1.7 billion in insured damages and approximately A$2.3 billion total (1999 values).
Asphyxiation Sydney, New South Wales 1 26 January 2001 Big Day Out Concert. Teenage girl crushed in mosh pit.[239]
Cyclone Queensland 1 20 March 2006 Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry
Mine disaster Beaconsfield, Tasmania 1 25 April 2006 Beaconsfield Mine collapse
Flood Mackay, Queensland 1 16 February 2008 Multiple storm cells resulted in flash flooding in the city of Mackay on 15 February 2008. The flooding caused millions of dollars of damage, with one person dying due to drowning.[citation needed]
Cyclone Queensland 1 3 February 2011 Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Significant incidents of Australians being killed overseas[edit]

Excludes deaths attributable to war.

Disaster Location Deaths Date Notes
Terrorism Kuta, Bali, Indonesia 88 12 October 2002 2002 Bali bombings
Air accident Near Hrabove, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine 27 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Tsunami Thailand and Sri Lanka 26 26 December 2004 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
Air accident Denpasar, Indonesia 16 22 April 1974 Pan Am Boeing 707 crashes into a mountain, a total of 107 people were killed.[240]
Flood Saxeten, Switzerland 14 28 July 1999 Flash flood hits canyoning expedition
Terrorism New York City and Arlington County, United States 11 11 September 2001 11 September 2001 attacks.
Air accident Nias Island, Indonesia 9 2 April 2005 2005 Nias Island Sea King crash crashes while providing relief services to victims of the 2005 Sumatra earthquake
Air accident near Isurava, Papua New Guinea 9 12 August 2009 Airlines PNG Flight 4684
Air accident Republic of the Congo 6 20 June 2010 2010 Cameroon Aéro Service CASA C-212 Aviocar crash
Air accident Pakse, Laos 6 16 October 2013 Lao Airlines Flight 301
Air accident Southern Indian Ocean (presumed) 6 8 March 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Massacre Balibo, East Timor 5 16 October 1975 Balibo Five. Five Australian journalists murdered by Indonesian troops. The Indonesian government claimed that the men were unintentionally killed in a cross-fire but a 2007 inquest ruled that the journalists were deliberately murdered.[241]
Air accident Yogyakarta, Indonesia 5 7 March 2007 Garuda Indonesia Flight 200
Tsunami Samoa 5 30 September 2009 2009 Samoa earthquake
Air accident near San Francisco 4+ 29 October 1953 British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Flight 304 crashes on approach to San Francisco.
Massacre Waco, Texas 4* 28 February-19 April 1993 Waco Siege.[242] *Two of the Australian victims were also pregnant at the time. At least two other Australians were amongst the small number of survivors.
Bridge collapse Ramat Gan, Israel 4 14 July 1997 Maccabiah bridge collapse
Terrorism Jimbaran and Kuta, Bali, Indonesia 4 1 October 2005 2005 Bali bombings
Air accident Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia 3 4 December 1977 Malaysian Airline System Flight 653
Fire Manoharpur, Odisha, India 3 22 January 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and sons killed in arson attack
Terrorism Jakarta, Indonesia 3 17 July 2009 JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton hotel bombing
Air Accident Misima Island, Papua New Guinea 3 31 August 2010 Cessna Citation crashed on landing. One New Zealander also killed.[243][244]
Air accident London, United Kingdom 2 4 November 1967 Iberia Airlines Flight 062 crashed while landing at Heathrow Airport
Terrorism Mumbai, India 2 November 2008 November 2008 Mumbai attacks
Air accident off Mauritius 2 28 November 1987 South African Airways Flight 295
Air accident near Qazvin, Iran 2 15 July 2009 Caspian Airlines Flight 7908
Air accident Near Hawaii, United States 2 24 February 1989 United Airlines Flight 811 between Honolulu and Auckland experiences explosive decompression
Air accident Los Rodeos, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain 2 27 March 1977 KLM and Pan Am jumbos collide on runway (Tenerife airport disaster)
Terrorism Roermond, Netherlands 2 27 May 1990 Two Australian tourists shot by the Provisional IRA, in the mistaken belief they are British military personnel
Air accident Bay of Bengal 2 8 November 1935 Lady Southern Cross, piloted by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, crashes en route between Allahabad, India and Singapore

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]