List of disasters in the United States by death toll
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This list of United States disasters by death toll includes disasters that occurred either in the United States, at diplomatic missions of the United States, or incidents outside of the United States in which a number of U.S. citizens were killed.
- Domestic deaths due to war are included except the American Civil War. For stats on this and U.S. military deaths in foreign locations, see United States military casualties of war.
- Due to inflation, the monetary damage estimates are not comparable. Unless otherwise noted, the year given is the year in which the currency's valuation was calculated.
Over 100,000 deaths - Epidemics
- HIV/AIDS in the United States - 700,000+ as of 2021[update]
- 1918 Spanish Flu - 675,000+
- COVID-19 pandemic in the United States - 500,000+ as of 20 February 2021[update]
- 1957–1958 influenza pandemic - 116,000
- 1968 Hong Kong flu - 100,000
Over 400 deaths
|1900||Tropical cyclone||6,000-12,000||$28,000,000 (approximate)||1900 Galveston hurricane||Texas||Fatalities estimated. Remains the deadliest natural disaster in United States history.|
|1936||Heat wave||5,000||1936 North American heat wave||United States, Canada|
|1899 San Ciriaco hurricane||Puerto Rico, East Coast of the United States|
|1906||Earthquake and fire (urban conflagration)||3,000+||$235,000,000
|1906 San Francisco earthquake||San Francisco, California||Conflagration followed quake; fatalities estimated; also major casualties in Santa Rosa and San Jose. Deadliest earthquake in U.S. history.|
|September 11 attacks||New York City, Arlington County, Virginia, and Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania||2,977 victims and 19 hijackers. Deadliest in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.|
|2017||Tropical cyclone||2,982 (estimated)||$94,500,000,000
|Hurricane Maria||Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, East Coast of the United States||Total includes at least 2,975 deaths based on a study by GWU on the estimated excess mortality. The official death count was previously 64. The storm caused $90 billion (2017 USD) in damage in Puerto Rico, and three deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as an additional 75 deaths and $1.6 billion in damage across the rest of the Caribbean.|
|1928 Okeechobee hurricane||Florida, Puerto Rico||4,000+ believed dead total. Includes 2,511+ in the contiguous United States, 312 in Puerto Rico.|
|1941||Military strike – bombing||2,467||Attack on Pearl Harbor||Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii and nearby military installations||2,403 U.S. victims and 64 Japanese attackers. Deadliest attack on U.S. soil by a foreign government to date.|
|1889||Accident – dam burst||2,209||Johnstown Flood||Pennsylvania||Much rain, deforestation; dam failed|
|1893||Tropical cyclone||2,000||1893 Cheniere Caminada hurricane||Louisiana||Fatalities estimated|
|1865||Accident – shipwreck||1,700||Sultana||Marion, Arkansas / Helena, Arkansas||Steamboat sank due to boiler explosion; fatalities estimated. Deadliest maritime disaster in U.S. history|
|1980 United States heat wave||Central and southern states||Official death toll, may have been higher|
|1871||Wildfire||1,500–2,500||Peshtigo Fire||Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan||Fatalities estimated; most deaths in single fire in U.S. history|
|Hurricane Katrina||Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio||Tied with Hurricane Harvey as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.|
|1943||Military strike – bombing||1,173||HMT Rohna||Mediterranean Sea||Luftwaffe glide bomb hit troopship causing the largest loss of U.S. soldiers (1,050) at sea due to enemy action in a single incident.|
|1904||Accident – shipwreck||1,021||PS General Slocum||East River near New York City||Steamship sank due to fire on board. Deadliest maritime disaster in New York City, and deadliest in city's history until 2001.|
|1893||Tropical cyclone||1,000–2,000||1893 Sea Islands hurricane||Georgia, South Carolina||Fatalities estimated|
|1918||Wildfire (rural)||1,000||$7,300,000||1918 Cloquet fire||Minnesota|
|1978||Mass murder||918||Jonestown||Jonestown, Guyana||Jim Jones, cult leader of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, convinced most of the group to drink grape Flavor Aid poisoned with cyanide or to inject themselves and their children with cyanide, totaling 909 deaths of U.S. nationals. A family of four other Temple members committed murder/suicide by knife in Georgetown. Five others were shot and killed while trying to escape from Jonestown, including U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan.|
|1945||Military strike – submarine||879||USS Indianapolis||Philippine Sea||Largest loss of life in the history of the U.S. Navy at sea|
|1915||Accident – shipwreck||844||SS Eastland||Chicago, Illinois||Passenger ship capsized in Chicago harbor while loading charter for company picnic, causing great loss of life despite shallow water and proximity to land. Deadliest disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping, and deadliest disaster in Chicago history.|
|1944||Military strike – submarine||819||SS Leopoldville||English Channel||Approximately 763 United States Army soldiers drowned.|
|1944||Military strike – E-boats||749||Exercise Tiger||English Channel||USS LST-289, LST-507 and LST-531 sunk during a training exercise.|
|1919||Tropical cyclone||745||1919 Florida Keys hurricane||Florida, Texas|
|1995||Heat wave||739||Chicago Heat Wave of 1995||Chicago, Illinois|
|Tri-State Tornado||Missouri, Illinois and Indiana (Kentucky, Tennessee)||Lower number for single 3-state tornado; higher for 5-state outbreak|
|1942||Military strike – submarine||683||USS Juneau||Guadalcanal||Sunk by submarine while retreating with damage from naval battle of Guadalcanal.|
|1938||Tropical cyclone||682–800||1938 New England hurricane|
|1943||Military strike – submarine||675||SS Dorchester||Greenland||United States troopship.|
|1943||Military strike – submarine||644||USS Liscombe Bay||Gilbert Islands||Submarine torpedo detonated the aircraft carrier's bomb magazine during Operation Galvanic.|
|1903||Fire (building)||602||Iroquois Theatre fire||Chicago, Illinois||Worst theater fire in American history; worst single-building fire.|
|1928||Accident – dam failure||600||St. Francis Dam||Santa Clarita, California|
|1947||Accident – explosion||581||Texas City disaster||Texas City, Texas||Ammonium nitrate on board ship|
|1871||Wildfire (rural)||500 (estimated)||Great Michigan Fire||Michigan|
|1942||Fire (building)||492||Cocoanut Grove fire||Boston, Massachusetts||Deadliest nightclub fire ever, and second-deadliest structure fire in U.S. history; loss of life due to blocked exits; burn victims were among the first treated with penicillin|
|1927||Exploitation, silicosis||476–1,000+||Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster||Gauley Bridge, West Virginia||178 admitted deaths, 476 with congressional inquiry, 1,000+ by epidemiologists.|
|1936||Tornado outbreak||436+||1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak||Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee||Two tornadoes in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Gainesville, Georgia, killed 233 and 203 people respectively|
|1913||Flood||428||1913 (Ohio) statewide flood||Ohio|
|1894||Wildfire (rural)||418+||Great Hinckley Fire||Hinckley, Minnesota and vicinity|
|Hurricane Audrey||Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama|
|1935||Tropical cyclone||408||1935 Labor Day hurricane||Florida|
201 to 400 deaths
81 to 200 deaths
|1871||Fire (urban conflagration)||200–300||Great Chicago Fire||Chicago, Illinois||Fatalities estimated; 125 bodies recovered|
|1900||Accident – coal mine||200||Scofield Mine disaster||Scofield, Utah|
|1898||Accident – shipwreck||192||The Portland||Gloucester, Massachusetts|
|1863||Mass murder, military operation||185–200||Lawrence Massacre||Lawrence, Kansas|
|1947||Tornado||181||1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes||Oklahoma (especially Woodward), Texas (including Glazier and Higgins), Kansas|
|1908||Fire (building)||174||Collinwood school fire||Cleveland, Ohio||Deadliest school fire in U.S. history; led to many changes in how schools were built.|
|1908||Fire (building)||171||Rhoads Opera House fire||Boyertown, Pennsylvania||Sources conflict on number of fatalities: 170 or 171.|
|1917||Fire (mine)||168||Speculator Mine disaster||Butte, Montana|
|1944||Fire (building)||168||Hartford circus fire||Hartford, Connecticut|
|1966||Smog incident||168||1966 New York City smog||New York City and New York metropolitan area, including parts of New Jersey and Connecticut||Fatalities estimated|
|1995||Terrorism||168||Oklahoma City bombing||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||Deadliest act of domestic terrorism, and deadliest domestic bombing, in U.S. history|
|1946||Tsunami and Earthquake||165||1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake||Alaska, Hawaii|
|1977||Fire (building)||165||Beverly Hills Supper Club fire||Southgate, Kentucky|
|1944||Maritime Accident||163||West Loch disaster||Pearl Harbor, Hawaii||Classified as top secret until 1960.|
|1956||Blizzard||162||March 18–20, 1956 nor'easter||Northeastern United States|
|2011 Joplin tornado||Joplin, Missouri||Part of the tornado outbreak sequence of May 21–26, 2011. Three additional fatalities resulted indirectly from this tornado.|
|2012||Tropical cyclone||158||$71,400,000,000||Hurricane Sandy||Most of the United States East Coast||86 indirect fatalities occurred in the United States. 76 additional fatalities occurred in the Caribbean and the Bahamas; 21 people are still missing in Haiti.|
|1960||Tropical cyclone||157||$491,100,000||Hurricane Donna||The Caribbean, United States East Coast||Includes 107 deaths in Puerto Rico.|
|1987||Accident – aircraft||156||Northwest Airlines Flight 255||Detroit, Michigan|
|1982||Accident – aircraft||153||Pan Am Flight 759||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|1911||Fire (building)||146||Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire||New York City, New York||Led to improved occupational safety standards as well as mandatory comprehensive fire safety standards|
|1976||Flood||145||Big Thompson Canyon Flood of 1976||Colorado|
|1978||Accident – aircraft||144||PSA Flight 182||San Diego, California|
|1840||Accident – shipwreck||139||Lexington||Long Island Sound||Steamship sank due to fire on board|
|1985||Accident – aircraft||137||Delta Air Lines Flight 191||Dallas, Texas|
|1960||Accident – aircraft||134||1960 New York mid-air collision||New York City, New York|
|1967||Fire (ship)||134||>$72,000,000||1967 USS Forrestal fire||Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam|
|1994||Accident – aircraft||132||USAir Flight 427||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|1944||Accident – explosion||130||$7,000,000-
|Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion||Cleveland, Ohio|
|1963||Accident – Submarine||129||USS Thresher (SSN-593)||Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Massachusetts||Deadliest submarine disaster in history.|
|1915||Incident – Maritime||128||Sinking of the RMS Lusitania||Atlantic Ocean near Kinsale, Ireland||Ship torpedoed by a German U-boat. 1,198 fatalities resulted overall; 128 of them were Americans.|
|1956||Accident – aircraft||128||1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision||Grand Canyon, Arizona||Parts of wreckage still visible. Deadliest air disaster in U.S. at that time; led to creation of Federal Aviation Administration two years later.|
|1972||Accident – Dam burst||125||Buffalo Creek flood||Logan County, West Virginia|
|1929||Fire (building)||123||Cleveland Clinic fire of 1929||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Long Beach earthquake||Long Beach, California|
|1946||Fire (building)||119||Winecoff Hotel||Atlanta, Georgia|
|1972||Tropical cyclone||119||$2,100,000,000||Hurricane Agnes||Eastern United States|
|1899||Tornado||117||>$300,000 ($8,381,000 in today's dollars[when?]).||New Richmond tornado||New Richmond, Wisconsin||Tornado hit the same time the circus was in town.|
|1918||Earthquake||116||1918 San Fermin earthquake||Puerto Rico|
|1837||Accident – shipwreck||115||Wreck of the Mexico||Long Beach, New York||Eight people rescued from shore. One hundred fifteen crew and passengers (mostly Irish immigrants, and many of them women and children) froze to death on the deck of the ship just 200 yards from shore. See book: "Water and Ice: The Tragic Wrecks of the Bristol and the Mexico on the South Shore of Long Island" @ www.Lynhistory.com The wreck of the Mexico is the subject of Walt Whitman's poem, "Sleepers" in Leaves of Grass.|
|1938||Flood||115||$78 million (1938)||Los Angeles flood of 1938||Los Angeles, California||Deadliest disaster in Los Angeles history|
|1964||Tsunami and Earthquake||115||$1,800,000,000
|Good Friday earthquake||Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California|
|1953||Tornado||114||1953 Waco tornado outbreak||Waco, Texas||Other tornadoes in the outbreak caused an additional 30 deaths|
|1981||Accident – collapse||114||Hyatt Regency walkway collapse||Kansas City, Missouri|
|1975||Accident – aircraft||113||Eastern Air Lines Flight 66||New York City, New York|
|1863||Riot||112||$1–5 million (1863)||New York City draft riots||New York City, New York||Worst civil unrest in U.S. history required diverting Union Army troops from the front to put down|
|Hurricane Ike||Texas; Louisiana||34 people still missing as of 2013[update]|
|1947||Accident – coal mine||111||Centralia mine disaster||Centralia, Illinois|
|1971||Accident – aircraft||111||Alaska Airlines Flight 1866||Juneau, Alaska|
|1989||Accident – aircraft||111||United Airlines Flight 232||Sioux City, Iowa|
|1996||Accident – aircraft||110||ValuJet Flight 592||Florida Everglades|
|1869||Accident – coal mine||108||Avondale Mine disaster||Plymouth, Pennsylvania|
|Hurricane Harvey||Texas, Louisiana||Tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest natural disaster in United States history. One additional death occurred in Guyana.|
|1918||Accident – railroad||101||Great Train Wreck of 1918||Nashville, Tennessee||Deadliest rail accident in U.S. history|
|1963||Accident – aircraft||101||Northwest Airlines Flight 293||Near Annette Island, Alaska|
|1972||Accident – aircraft||101||Eastern Air Lines Flight 401||Miami, Florida|
|1892||Accident-Coal mine||100||Krebs, Oklahoma (then Choctaw nation, Indian Territory)||Natural gas explosion|
|Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978||Northeastern United States||Fatalities estimated|
|2003||Fire (building)||100||The Station nightclub fire||West Warwick, Rhode Island||4th-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, killing 100 people and injuring more than 200.|
|Hurricane Irma||Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, Eastern United States (particularly Florida)||Includes three deaths and $1 billion (2017 USD) in damage in Puerto Rico, and four deaths and $2.4 billion in damage in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Storm caused an additional 35 deaths and approximately US$11.4 billion in damage across the rest of the Caribbean.|
|1968||Accident – shipwreck||99||USS Scorpion (SSN-589)||North Atlantic Ocean off New London, Connecticut||U.S. Navy investigation of cause was inconclusive, although suggested an internal hydrogen explosion may have been followed by collapse of hull, followed by immediately sinking to ocean floor, killing all hands.|
|1890||Accident – shipwreck||98||Sea Wing disaster||Lake Pepin near Lake City, Minnesota||Strong winds toppled the excursion vessel.|
|1922||Roof collapse||98||Knickerbocker Theatre||Washington, District of Columbia|
|1904||Accident – railroad||97||Eden train wreck||Pueblo, Colorado|
|1910||Avalanche||96||Wellington avalanche||Wellington, Washington||Avalanche hit 2 trains in Tye Canyon|
|1954||Tropical cyclone||95||Hurricane Hazel||North Carolina; South Carolina||U.S. victims only|
|1958||Fire (building)||95||Our Lady of the Angels School fire||Chicago, Illinois|
|1962||Accident – aircraft||95||American Airlines Flight 1||New York City, New York|
|1918||Accident – railroad||93||Malbone Street Wreck||Brooklyn, New York||Some accounts give death toll as 101. Deadliest accident on New York City subway, deadliest rail disaster in city's history and deadliest mass-transit accident in U.S. history.|
|1876||Accident – railroad||92||Ashtabula River railroad disaster||Ashtabula, Ohio|
|1974||Accident – aircraft||92||TWA Flight 514||Berryville, Virginia|
|1973||Accident – aircraft||89||Delta Air Lines Flight 723||Boston, Massachusetts|
|2000||Accident – aircraft||88||Alaska Airlines Flight 261||Pacific Ocean near Anacapa Island, California|
|2018||Forest fire||85||Camp Fire||Paradise, California||Deadliest fire in California history.|
|1990||Fire (building)||87||Happy Land fire||New York City, New York||Arson by disgruntled patron. Deadliest mass murder by a single person in U.S. history.|
|1910||Wildfire||86||Great Fire of 1910||Washington, Idaho, Montana|
|1918||Accident – railroad||86||Hammond Circus Train Wreck||Hammond, Indiana|
|1993||Police raid – Fire||86||Waco siege||Branch Davidian Complex, Waco, Texas||6 Davidians and 4 police killed in initial raid. Weeks later during final FBI assault, 76 Davidians died in a fire of disputed origin.|
|1951||Accident – railroad||85||Woodbridge train wreck||Woodbridge, New Jersey|
|1968||Accident – aircraft||85||Braniff Flight 352||Dawson, Texas|
|1980||Fire (building)||85||MGM Grand fire||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|1965||Accident – aircraft||84||Eastern Air Lines Flight 663||New York City, New York|
|1977||Flash Flood||84||$300,000,000||Johnstown flood of 1977||Johnstown, Pennsylvania||The flood occurred when an extraordinary amount of rain came down in the Conemaugh Valley in a short period of time. Nearly 12 inches were measured in 10 hours. The National Weather Service later estimated that this amount of rain in that location should happen less than once every 1,000 years.|
|1969||Accident – aircraft||83||Allegheny Airlines Flight 853||Shelby County, Indiana||A Piper Cherokee 140, piloted by a student who was a week away from getting his private pilot's license, collided with an Allegheny Airlines DC-9. The flight originated in Boston and had stopped in Baltimore and Cincinnati.|
|1967||Accident – aircraft||82||Piedmont Airlines Flight 22||Hendersonville, North Carolina|
|1986||Accident – aircraft||82||1986 Cerritos mid-air collision||Cerritos, California|
|1887||Accident – railroad||81–85||Great Chatsworth train wreck||Chatsworth, Illinois|
|1963||Accident – aircraft||81||Pan Am Flight 214||Elkton, Maryland||Lightning strike|
41 to 80 deaths
15 to 40 deaths
- List of disasters in Antarctica by death toll
- List of disasters in Australia by death toll
- List of disasters in Canada by death toll
- List of disasters in Croatia by death toll
- List of disasters in Great Britain and Ireland by death toll
- List of disasters in New Zealand by death toll
- List of disasters in Poland by death toll
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