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 worst natural disasters[edit]

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1 1,000,000–4,000,000*[1] 1931 China floods China July, August, 1931
2 900,000–2,000,000[2] 1887 Yellow River flood China September, October, 1887
3 830,000[3] 1556 Shaanxi earthquake China January 23, 1556
4 242,000–655,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China July 28, 1976
5 500,000–1,000,000[1] 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) November 13, 1970
6 300,000[4] 1839 India Cyclone India November 25, 1839
6 300,000[5] 1737 Calcutta cyclone India October 7, 1737
8 273,400[6] 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China December 16, 1920
9 250,000–300,000[7] 526 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) May 526
10 260,000[8] 115 Antioch earthquake Roman 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]

Rank Death toll (estimate) Event* Location Date
1. 1,000,000–4,000,000 1931 China floods China July 1931
2. 242,000–655,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China July 1976
3. 500,000 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) November 1970
4. 273,400 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China December 1920
5. 230,000 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami Indian Ocean December 26, 2004
6. 229,000 Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failure China August 7, 1975
7. 160,000 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti January 12, 2010
8. 145,000 1935 Yangtze river flood China 1935
9. 142,000 1923 Great Kanto earthquake Japan September 1923
10. 138,866 1991 Bangladesh cyclone Bangladesh April 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]

Main articles: Avalanches and List of avalanches
Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1. 20,000 1970 Huascarán avalanche; triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake[10] Peru 1970
2. 4,000 1962 Huascarán avalanche[10] Peru 1962
3. 265 Winter of Terror Austria-Switzerland 1951
4. 172 2010 Salang avalanches Afghanistan 2010
5. 140 2012 Siachen Glacier avalanche Pakistan 2012
6. 125 Kolka-Karmadon rock ice slide Russia 2002
7. 102 2010 Kohistan avalanche Pakistan 2010
8. 96 Wellington, Washington avalanche United States 1910
9. 90 Frank Slide Canada 1903
10. 62 1910 Rogers Pass avalanche Canada 1910

Ten deadliest blizzards[edit]

Main article: Blizzard
Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date
1. 4,000 1972 Iran blizzard Iran 1972
2. 3,000 Carolean Death March Sweden/Norway 1719
3. 926 2008 Afghanistan blizzard Afghanistan 2008
4. 400 Great Blizzard of 1888 United States 1888
5. 318 1993 North American Storm Complex United States 1993
6. 235 Schoolhouse Blizzard United States 1888
7. 199 Hakko-da Mountains incident Japan 1902
8. 154 North American blizzard of 1996 United States 1996
9. 144 Armistice Day Blizzard United States 1940
10. 133 2008 Chinese winter storms China 2008

Ten deadliest tropical cyclones[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 500,000 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) November 13, 1970
2. 300,000[4] 1839 India Cyclone India November 25, 1839
2. 300,000[5] 1737 Calcutta cyclone India October 7, 1737
4. 229,000 Super Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failure China August 7, 1975
5. 200,000[11] Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876 India (now Bangladesh) October 30, 1876
6. 150,000 (30,000 to 300,000)[12] 1881 Haiphong Typhoon Vietnam October 8, 1881
7. 138,866 1991 Bangladesh cyclone Bangladesh April 29, 1991
8. 138,366 Cyclone Nargis Myanmar May 2, 2008
9. 100,000[13] 1882 Bombay cyclone India 1882
10. 80,000[14] 1874 Bengal cyclone India October, 1874

50 deadliest earthquakes[edit]

Rank Death toll (estimate around) Event Location Date
1. 830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquake China January 23, 1556
2. 650,000–779,000[15][16][17] 1976 Tangshan earthquake China July 28, 1976
3. 273,400[6] 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China December 16, 1920
4. 250,000–300,000[7] 526 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) May 526
5. 260,000[8] 115 Antioch earthquake Roman Empire (now Turkey) December 13, 115
6. 230,000 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Indonesia December 26, 2004
7. 230,000 1138 Aleppo earthquake Zengid dynasty (now Syria) October 11, 1138
8. 200,000[18] 1303 Hongdong earthquake Mongol Empire (now China) September 17, 1303
9. 200,000 856 Damghan earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Iran) December 22, 856
10. 200,000[19] 1780 Tabriz earthquake Iran January 8, 1780
11. 170,000[20] 896 Udaipur earthquake India 896
12. 160,000[21][22] 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti January 12, 2010
13. 150,000 893 Ardabil earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Iran) March 23, 893
14. 142,807[23][24] 1923 Great Kanto earthquake Japan September 1, 1923
15. 130,000[25] 533 Aleppo earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Syria) November 29, 533
16. 123,000[1] 1908 Messina earthquake Italy December 28, 1908
17. 110,000 1948 Ashgabat earthquake Turkmen SSR, Soviet Union (now Turkmenistan) October 5, 1948
18. 100,000 1290 Chihli earthquake Mongol Empire (now China) September 27, 1290
19. 100,000 1970 Ancash earthquake Peru May 31, 1970
20. 100,000[26] 2005 Kashmir earthquake Pakistan (Azad Kashmir) October 8, 2005
21. 87,587[27][28] 2008 Sichuan earthquake China May 12, 2008
22. 80,000[29] 1721 Tabriz earthquake Iran April 26, 1721
23. 80,000[30] 458 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) September 458
24. 80,000 1667 Shamakhi earthquake Safavid dynasty (now Azerbaijan) November 1667
25. 80,000 1854 Great Nankaidō earthquake Japan November 1854
26. 80,000[31][32] 1169 Aleppo earthquake Zengid dynasty (now Syria) 1169
27. 77,000 1727 Tabriz earthquake Iran November 18, 1727
28. 73,000[33] 1718 Gansu earthquake Qing Empire (now China) June 19, 1718
29. 70,000[34] 1033 Ramala earthquake Fatimid Caliphate (now West Bank) December 10, 1033
30. 70,000[35] 847 Damascus earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Syria) 847
31. 70,000[36] 1868 Ecuador earthquakes Ecuador August 15, 1868 and August 16, 1868
32. 60,000[37] 587 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) September 30, 587
33. 60,000[38] 1101 Khorasan earthquake Great Seljuq Empire (now Iran) 1101
34. 60,000 1268 Cilicia earthquake Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (now Turkey) 1268
35. 60,000 1693 Sicily earthquake Kingdom of Sicily (now Italy) January 11, 1693
36. 60,000 1935 Balochistan earthquake British India (now part of Pakistan) May 31, 1935
37. 50,000[39] 844 Damascus earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Syria) September 18, 844
38. 50,000[40] 1042 Tabriz earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Iran) November 4, 1042
39. 50,000 1783 Calabrian earthquakes Kingdom of Naples (now Italy) 1783
40. 50,000 1990 Manjil-Rudbar earthquake Iran June 21, 1990
41. 40,000–50,000[41] 1755 Lisbon earthquake Portugal November 1, 1755
42. 45,000[42] 850 Iran earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Iran) July 15, 850
43. 45,000[43] 856 Corinth earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Greece) November 856
44. 45,000[44][45] 856 Tunisia earthquake Abbasid Caliphate (now Tunisia) December 3, 856
45. 42,571[46] 1668 Shandong earthquake Qing Empire (now China) July 25, 1668
46. 40,900 1927 Gulang earthquake Gansu, China May 22, 1927
47. 40,000[47] 342 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) 342
48. 40,000[48] 662 Damghan earthquake Umayyad Caliphate (now Iran) April 26, 662
49. 40,000[49] 1455 Naples earthquake Crown of Aragon (now Italy) December 5, 1455
50. 40,000[50] 1754 Cairo earthquake Ottoman Empire (now Egypt) September 2, 1754
51. 40,000[51] 1755 Tabriz earthquake Iran June 7, 1755
52. 40,000 1797 Riobamba earthquake Spanish Empire (now Ecuador) February 4, 1797

Ten deadliest floods / landslides[edit]

Main articles: Landslide and List of landslides

Note: Some of these floods and landslides may be partially caused by humans - for example, by failure of dams, levees, seawalls or retaining walls.

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,000,000–4,000,000[52] 1931 China floods China 1931
2. 900,000–2,000,000 1887 Yellow River (Huang He) flood China 1887
3. 229,000[53] Failure of 62 dams, the largest of which was Banqiao Dam, result of Typhoon Nina. China 1975
4. 145,000 1935 Yangtze river flood China 1935
5. more than 100,000 St. Felix's Flood, storm surge Netherlands 1530
6. 100,000 Hanoi and Red River Delta flood North Vietnam 1971
7. up to 100,000[citation needed] 1911 Yangtze River flood China 1911
8. 50,000–80,000 St. Lucia's flood, storm surge Netherlands 1287
9. 60,000 North Sea flood, storm surge Netherlands 1212
10. 36,000 St. Marcellus flood, storm surge Netherlands 1219

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]

Main article: Heat wave
Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 70,000 2003 European heat wave Europe 2003
2. 56,000 2010 Russian heat wave Russia 2010
3. 5,000–10,000 1988 United States heat wave United States 1988
4. 1,700–5,000 1980 United States heat wave United States 1980
5. 1,718 2010 Japanese heat wave Japan 2010[54]
6. 1,500 2003 Southern India heat wave India 2003[55]
7. 946 1955 Los Angeles heat wave United States 1955
8. 891 1972 New York City heat wave United States 1972
9. 739 1995 Chicago heat wave United States 1995[56]
10. 475 1900 Argentina heat wave Argentina 1900

Deadliest lightning strikes[edit]

Main article: Lightning
Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 4,000 Palace of the Grand Master Explosion, Rhodes Greece 1856[57]
2. 3,000 Church of San Nazaro Explosion, Brescia Italy 1769

Deadliest limnic eruptions[edit]

Main article: Limnic eruption

(Only 2 recorded cases.)

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,744 Lake Nyos Cameroon 1986
2. 37 Lake Monoun Cameroon 1984

10 deadliest storms (non-cyclone)[edit]

Main article: Storm
Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 15,100 Vargas tragedy Venezuela 1999
2. 1,000 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides Brazil 2011
3. 500 Lofoten, Heavy storm Norway 1849
4. 250 Great Lakes Storm of 1913 United States and Canada (Great Lakes region) 1913
5. 242 1996 Amarnath Yatra tragedy India 1996
6. 210 Trøndelag, storm ("Follastormen") Norway 1625
7. 189 Eyemouth, Scotland, storm ("Black Friday") United Kingdom 1881
8. 156 1972 Rainstorm Disasters Hong Kong 1972
9. 140 Trøndelag, storm ("Titran disaster") Norway 1899
10. 128 2008 Santa Catarina floods and mudslides Brazil 2008

10 deadliest tornadoes[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,300 The Daulatpur-Salturia Tornado Manikganj, Bangladesh April 26, 1989
2. 923 1969 East Pakistan Tornado East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1969
3. 695 The Tri-State Tornado United States (MissouriIllinoisIndiana) March 18, 1925
4. 681 1973 Dhaka Tornado Bangladesh 1973
5. 600 The Valletta, Malta Tornado Malta 1551
6. 500 The Sicily Tornadoes Sicily, Two Sicilies (now Italy) 1851
6. 500 The Narail-Magura Tornadoes Jessore, East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1964
6. 500 The Comoro Tornado Comoro 1951
9. 440 The Tangail Tornado Bangladesh 1988
10. 400 The Ivanovo-Yaroslavl, Russia, Tornado Soviet Union (now Russia) 1984

10 deadliest tsunamis[edit]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 230,000 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami Indonesia December 26, 2004
2. 123,000[1] 1908 Messina earthquake Italy December 28, 1908
3. 36,417–120,000 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Indonesia August 26, 1883
4. 40,000–50,000[41] 1755 Lisbon earthquake Portugal November 1, 1755
5. 30,000-100,000 (est.) Minoan Eruption Greece 2nd Millennium BC
6. 31,000 1498 Meiō Nankaidō earthquake Japan September 20, 1498
7. 30,000 1707 Hōei earthquake Japan October 28, 1707
8. 27,122[58] 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake Japan June 15, 1896
9. 25,674 1868 Arica earthquake Chile August 13, 1868
10. 23,024 1293 Kamakura earthquake Japan May 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]

Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 92,000 Mount Tambora (see also Year Without a Summer) Indonesia April 10, 1815
2. 36,000 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Krakatoa, Indonesia August 26–27, 1883
3. 33,000 Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy August 24, 79 A.D.
4. 29,000 Mount Pelée Martinique May 7 or May 8, 1902
5. 23,000 Armero tragedy Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia November 13, 1985
6. 15,000 Mount Unzen Japan 1792
7. 12,000 Mayon Volcano Philippines 1814
8. 10,000 Mount Kelud Indonesia 1586
9. 9,350 (25% of population of Iceland) Laki Iceland June 8, 1783
10. 6,000 Santa Maria Guatemala 1902

10 deadliest wildfires / bushfires[edit]

Main articles: Wildfire, Bushfire and List of wildfires
Rank Death toll Event Location Date
1. 1,200–2,500 Peshtigo Fire, Wisconsin United States October 8, 1871
2. 1,200 Kursha-2 Fire Soviet Union August 3, 1936
3. 453 Cloquet Fire, Minnesota United States October 12, 1918
4. 418 Great Hinckley Fire, Minnesota United States September 1, 1894
5. 282 Thumb Fire, Michigan United States September 5, 1881
6. 273 Matheson Fire, Ontario Canada July 29, 1916
7. 240 Sumatra and Kalimantan Fires Indonesia 1997
8. 230 Landes region France 1949
9. 213 Black Dragon Fire China May 1987
10. 173 Black Saturday bushfires Australia February 7 – March 14, 2009

See also[edit]

Other lists organized by death toll

References[edit]

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External links[edit]