List of mass evacuations

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Evacuees fleeing Hurricane Rita in Texas, United States

The list of mass evacuations includes emergency evacuations of a large number of people in a short period of time. An emergency evacuation is the movement of persons from a dangerous place due to the threat or occurrence of a disastrous event whether from natural or man made causes or as the result of war.

Ancient times[edit]

  • 480 BCE – The Greek officer of state and navy commander Themistocles ordered the evacuation of Athens as a strategic countermeasure to the approaching Persian army, leading to 100,000 inhabitants being displaced in the late summer.

1st century[edit]

5th century[edit]

  • 410 – Sack of Rome by Visigoths under Alaric I. Many Romans were either taken captive and sold into slavery or later fled from the devastated city.

13th century[edit]

  • 1237–1293 – Mongol invasion of Europe: Many thousands in eastern Europe are displaced or flee before each of several Mongol expeditions.

14th century[edit]

19th Century[edit]

20th century[edit]

U.S. military dependents board USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the aftermath of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
  • April 20, 1906 – The resultant fire of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake leads to evacuation by sea of 20,000 refugees.[1]
  • Between March 1937 and October 1938 nearly 3,000 children, were evacuated from Spain to then the Soviet Union. Most of the children were from the Basque Country, Asturias and Cantabria. On June 12, 1937, over 1,500 children and 75 tutors (teachers, doctors, and nurses) left the Port of Santurtzi in the Basque province of Bizkaia on board of the ship “Habana.” Similarly nearly 4000 children were evacuated to the United Kingdom, also on the "Habana" with the HMS Hood as an escort. They became, and are still, known as “los niños de la guerra” (“the war children”) and the “Gernika Generation,” in the specific Basque case.
  • September 1939 – The evacuations of civilians in Britain during World War II; at the outset of World War II, London and major British cities were evacuated with 1.5 million displacements in the first three days of the official evacuation. The final number of evacuees reached a total of 3.75 million.
  • 1939–1940 and June 1944 – The entire population of Finnish Karelia, 422,000 people, was evacuated during the Winter War. Some 260,000 of the displaced population returned home during the Continuation War but they were evacuated again in June 1944.
  • May and June 1940 - Operation Dynamo occurred in late May, early June 1940 with around 339,000 British and French troops evacuated from Dunkirk, France.[2]
  • 20–23 June 1940: 23,600 people, a third of the population, are evacuated from the Channel Islands to England and Scotland ahead of the German invasion.
  • October 1940 to 1945 – Evacuations of children in Germany during World War II
  • October 1941 – A mass evacuation of Moscow was ordered in the face of the threat of the attacking German Wehrmacht. 2 million inhabitants were displaced from the city within two weeks.
  • Autumn 1944 / Spring 1945 Evacuation of East Prussia (1.8 million people) and Pomerania (various estimates between 3 and 7 million, see Flight and expulsion of Germans from Poland during and after World War II); largest civilian Exodus in History
  • June 1944–August 1945 – Evacuations of civilians in Japan during World War II
  • 1945-1951; Istrian exodus From the end of World War II until 1953, according to various data, between 250,000 and 350,000 people emigrated from these regions
  • May 1950 – One hundred thousand people were evacuated from Winnipeg, Canada during the devastating Red River flood of 1950.[3]
  • Between December 10 and 24, 1950, over 100,000 UN troops who were cut off by the Chinese intervention forces in Northern Korea, along with an even larger number of civilian refugees, were evacuated from the North Korean port of Hungnam during Korean War.
  • July-Aug, 1971;15 Million people migrated from Bangladesh(then known as East Pakistan) to India to escape the military forces of Pakistan(then known as West Pakistan). This was the largest and bloodiest exodus in human history with 1 million dead.
  • 26–31 December 1974 – As a result of Cyclone Tracy destroying over 70 percent of the city, more than 35,000 people from Darwin, Australia are evacuated from the area leaving just 10,000 people (mainly adult males) to begin the massive cleanup.
  • July 1974 - The complete spontaneous evacuation in a few hours of Varosha before the Turkish army, the population fearing a massacre.
  • 1975 – Operation Frequent Wind: thousands of South Vietnamese and the last remaining Americans evacuate Saigon, capital of South Vietnam, before the invading Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army overrun the city.
  • July to October 1975 - After the end of the portuguese colonial war one million portuguese civilians were flown from former portuguese colonies in Africa, mainly Angola and Mozambique back to Portugal, in thousands of flights organized by the portuguese government, using hundreds of airline passengers airplanes.
  • 1975–1979 – Cambodia: After the Khmer Rouge take over the capital of Phnom Penh, all civilians are forced to evacuate the cities for the countryside, in order to create a new Communist society; 2–3 million displaced.
  • November 1979 – As a result of the 1979 Mississauga train derailment, the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada was evacuated following a chlorine leak after a freight train derailed. 218,000 were displaced.
  • April 1986 – The Chernobyl disaster involved an evacuation of an estimated 335,000 people following a nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union).[4]
  • 13 August to 11 October 1990 – Air India entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner. Over 111,000 people were evacuated from Amman to Mumbai – a distance of 4,117 km, by operating 488 flights in association with Indian Airlines, from 13 August to 11 October 1990 – lasting 59 days. The operation was carried out during Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq.
  • 24–25 May 1991 – Operation Solomon, covert Israeli military operation to take 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
  • June 1991 – Operation Fiery Vigil was the evacuation of roughly 20,000 non-essential military and United States Department of Defense civilian personnel and their dependents from Clark Air Base and U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay back to CONUS during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
  • February 1995 – At least 200,000 people are evacuated in the Netherlands due to flooding.[5]
  • July–August 1998 – Nearly 14 million people were evacuated because of massive flooding and landslides in north and central China, and 5.6 million houses were destroyed. An additional 300,000 people were evacuated on August 7 in preparation for a possible breach of the dikes along the Yangtze River.[6]
  • 1999 – The Kosovo War led to 800,000 refugees, not all of them urban residents, leaving Kosovo and being accommodated for up to three months in other parts of Europe.
  • September 1999 – The size of Hurricane Floyd, its intensity, and its track prompted public officials to launch the second largest evacuation in U.S. history with an estimated 3 million people fleeing the storm.[7]

21st century[edit]

Evacuees at evacuation site Mira Mesa High School
  • April 2001 – 77,000 inhabitants (around 2/3 of the population) of Vicenza, Italy were evacuated for several hours so that an unexploded bomb, originally dropped in World War II, could be safely disarmed.[8]
  • September 11, 2001 – Evacuations from high-rise buildings across the United States. Including 3200+ survivors in the World Trade Center towers, inhabitants of downtown Manhattan New York City, NY. Numerous other evacuations of high-rises in Chicago, IL including the Sears Tower and the Thompson Building. Largest sea evacuation, with over 500,000 people being evacuated in 9 hours by hundreds of boats.[2]
  • January 2002 – 300,000 residents of the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo were evacuated in three days due to the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo.[9]
  • August 2002 – The 2002 European floods led to the evacuation of 50,000 residents of Prague, Czech Republic, on 13 August, with a total of 200,000 Czechs during the second week of August.[10] Elsewhere in Europe more than 120,000 people were evacuated in the German city of Dresden, 36,000 in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, and 1,500 in Hungary.[11]
  • July 2005 – 20,000 people were evacuated from the city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom after a security alert due to a bomb scare.[12]
  • August 2005 – Hurricane Katrina led to a mass evacuation of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, with approximately 80% of the city's population of 484,000 evacuating before the storm struck.
  • September 22, 2005 – More than 3 million evacuated in Texas and Louisiana including 2.4 million from Houston, Texas, for Hurricane Rita. Largest evacuation in U.S. History and third largest peacetime evacuation in the world in modern history.
  • October 2007 – More than 1.4 million people were evacuated in the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian in anticipation of Typhoon Krosa.[13]
  • October 2007 – California wildfires forced more than 900,000 people in Southern California to evacuate, making it the largest evacuation in California history[14] and the largest evacuation for fire in United States history.[15]
  • May 2008 – 2008 Sichuan earthquake: Approximately 200,000 people are evacuated in Beichuan County, China because of flooding fears after a landslide created dam became unstable.[16]
  • August 2008 – At least 1.9 million people evacuate coastal Louisiana, including New Orleans, for Hurricane Gustav.[17] In western Cuba at least 300,000 people were evacuated for Hurricane Gustav.[18]
  • March 2011 – Following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents between 170,000 and 200,000 people are evacuated living within a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in fear of large casualties due to radiation poisoning.[19]
  • August 2011 – A mass evacuation from North Carolina to New York is ordered because of Hurricane Irene and its big size.[20]
  • June 2013 – Nearly 1,000,000 people evacuated in 12 days from Uttarakhand, India due to a flash flood and landslide. This operation was completed by Indian Air Force, ITBP, NDRF, and local authorities. There was a great presence of helicopters because road networks were severely damaged.
  • October 2013 – Nearly 850,000 people evacuated in 3 days from coastal areas of Odisha (more than 750,000 people evacuated) and Andhra Pradesh (nearly 90,000 people evacuated) before Cyclone Phailin. This operation was completed by the Indian Air Force, ITBP, NDRF, and local authorities.
  • December 2014 – Nearly 1,000,000 people evacuated in eastern Philippines before typhoon Hagupit.[21]


  1. ^ "Timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake". The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "A City Submerged – Winnipeg and the Flood of 1950 – CBC Archives". CBC. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  4. ^ "Geographical location and extent of radioactive contamination". Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  5. ^ Cowell, Alan (February 3, 1995). "Dutch Rivers Are Receding, But Danger to Dikes Persists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  6. ^ "Officials stage mass evacuations in China's deadly floods". Associated Press. August 7, 1998. Archived from the original on 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  7. ^ "Hurricane Floyd - A Night To Remember, A Day Of Evacuation Frustration To Forget". Federal Emergency Management Agency. November 18, 2003. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  8. ^ "Thousands Evacuated From Italian City to Detonate WWII Bomb". People's Daily. April 30, 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  9. ^ "Volcano Risk Reduction: A Case Study from Goma (DRC)" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. December 2004. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  10. ^ "Prague battles flood waters". BBC News. August 14, 2002. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  11. ^ "EADRCC Situation Report No. 2 on the Flood/CZECH Republic" (PDF). Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  12. ^ "British police order evac of central Birmingham district". USA Today. July 10, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  13. ^ Yanping, Li (October 24, 2007). "China Evacuates 1.4 Million People as Typhoon Krosa Hits Coast". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  14. ^ Brennan, Peter J.; Demian McLean (October 24, 2007). "California Fires Rout Almost 1 Million People, Kill 5". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "China plans mass exodus from quake zone". CNN. May 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  17. ^ Anderson, Ed (2008-08-31). "1.9 million people evacuate south Louisiana". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  18. ^ Will Weissert (2008-08-30). "Gustav now Category 4, winds of 145 mph". BlueRidgeNow. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  19. ^ McCurry, Justin (March 16, 2011). "Radiation spike forces evacuations at Fukushima nuclear power station". London: home. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  20. ^ Severson, Kim; Barry, Dan; Robertson, Campbell (August 27, 2011). "Damage and Flooding Scar Atlantic Seaboard". New york times. 
  21. ^