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A death toll is the number of fatalities as a result of any cause of death, such as violence (war, mass murder, genocide, terrorist attack), an accident, a natural disaster, extreme weather, infectious disease, etc.

Below is a list of various natural disasters by death toll. Most numbers are estimates and are often in dispute. The incidents are ranked from the highest to the lowest estimate given. This list is, by necessity, somewhat biased toward the modern period, due to better reporting of events.

Some events overlap categories.

Ten deadliest natural disasters

Note: This list excludes diseases and famines, which would otherwise occupy the entire list.

Rank Event Location Date Death Toll (Estimate)
1. 1931 China floods China 01931-01-01July-November, 1931 1,000,000–4,000,000*
2. 1887 Yellow River flood China 01887-01-01September-October, 1887 900,000–2,000,000
3. 1556 Shaanxi earthquakemarker Shaanxi Provincemarker, China 01556-01-01January 23, 1556 830,000
4. 1970 Bhola cyclone Bangladeshmarker 01970-01-01November 13, 1970 500,000
5. 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakemarker/tsunami Indian Ocean 02004-12-26December 26, 2004 443,929
6. 526 Antioch earthquake Antiochmarker, Byzantine Empire 00526-05-20May 20, 526 250,000
7. 1976 Tangshan earthquake Tangshanmarker, Hebeimarker, China 01976-07-28July 28, 1976 242,000
8. 1920 Haiyuan earthquakemarker Haiyuanmarker, Ningxia-Gansumarker, China 01920-12-16December 26, 1920 240,000
9. 1839 India Cyclone India 01839-01-01November 25, 1839 300,000
10. 1975 Banqiao Dam flood Zhumadianmarker, Henan Provincemarker, Chinamarker 01975-08-07August 7, 1975 90,000–230,000


* 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.

Deadliest natural disasters by type of event

Type Event Location Date Death Toll (Estimate)
Avalanche Wellington avalanche United States 01910-03-01March 1, 1910
Blizzard Iran Blizzard Iranmarker 01972-02-01February 1972
Drought Great Famine of 1876–78 India 01921-01-011876–1878
Earthquake Shaanxi Earthquakemarker China 01556-01-01January 23, 1556
Flood 1931 China floods China 01931-01-011931
Hailstorm Roopkundmarker, Uttaranchalmarker India 00800-01-019th century
Heat wave 2003 European heat wave Europe 02003-01-01June-August 2003
Landslide 1999 Vargas mudslides Venezuelamarker December 1999
Limnic Eruption Lake Nyosmarker Cameroonmarker 01986-01-01August 21, 1986
Pandemic Black Death Europe 01918-01-011348–1350
Tornado Saturia-Manikganj Sadar Tornado Bangladeshmarker 01989-04-26April 26, 1989
Tropical cyclone 1970 Bhola cyclone Bangladeshmarker 01970-11-13November 13, 1970
Tsunami 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamimarker Indian Ocean 02004-12-26December 26, 2004
Volcano Mount Tamboramarker Indonesiamarker 01815-01-011815


Earthquakes

Death Toll Event Location Date
830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquakemarker China 1556
779,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China 1976
250,000 526 Antioch earthquake Antioch, Byzantine Empire 526
240,000 1920 Haiyuan earthquakemarker China 1920
230,000 1138 Aleppo earthquake Syriamarker 1138
229,866 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakemarker Indonesiamarker, Sri Lankamarker, Indiamarker, Thailandmarker 2004
200,000 Damghan earthquake Iranmarker 856
150,000 Ardabil earthquake Iranmarker 893
137,000 1730 Hokkaido- earthquake Japan 1730
110,000 1948 Ashgabat earthquake Turkmenistanmarker 1948
105,000 Great Kanto earthquakemarker Japan 1923
100,000 Messina earthquake Italymarker 1908
100,000 1755 Lisbon earthquakemarker Portugalmarker 1755
100,000 Chihli earthquake Chinamarker 1290
86,000 2005 Kashmir earthquake Pakistanmarker 2005
85,000 Great Ansei Nankai earthquakes Japanmarker 1854
80,000 Shamakhimarker Azerbaijanmarker 1667
77,000 Tabriz Earthquake Iranmarker 1727
70,000 Changma, Gansu earthquakemarker Chinamarker 1932
69,197 2008 Sichuan earthquakemarker Chinamarker 2008
66,000 Ancash earthquake Perumarker 1970
60,000 Sicily earthquake Italymarker 1693
60,000 1935 Balochistan earthquake British India 1935
50,000 Calabrian earthquakes Italymarker 1783
40,000 Gulangmarker, Gansumarker earthquake Chinamarker 1927
40,000 Meio- Nankai, Japan (????) earthquake Japanmarker 1498
40,000 Quitomarker earthquake Ecuadormarker 1797
37,000 Genroku earthquake (?????) Japanmarker 1703
35,000 1990 Manjilmarker Rudbar earthquake Iranmarker 1990
32,962 1939 Erzincan earthquakemarker Turkeymarker 1939
30,000 Great Ho-ei Earthquake (?????) Japanmarker 1707
30,000 2003 Bam earthquakemarker Iranmarker 2003
25,000 Spitak Earthquakemarker Armeniamarker 1988
25,000 1978 Tabas earthquakemarker Iranmarker 1978
23,700 Kamakura earthquake Japanmarker 1293
23,000 Guatemalamarker earthquake Guatemalamarker 1976
20,000 Gujarat earthquakemarker Indiamarker 2001
20,000 1812 Caracas earthquake Venezuelamarker 1812
20,000 Chillánmarker earthquake Chilemarker 1939
18,000 Khait earthquake Tajikistanmarker 1949
17,118 Izmit earthquakemarker Turkeymarker 1999
15,000 1960 Agadir earthquake Moroccomarker 1960
12,225 1962 Bou'in-Zahra earthquakemarker Iranmarker 1962
10,700 1934 Bihar earthquake Indiamarker 1934
10,000 Apennine earthquakesmarker Italymarker 1703
9,748 1993 Latur earthquake Indiamarker 1993
9,500 1985 Mexico City earthquakemarker Mexicomarker 1985
9,000 1933 Diexi earthquakemarker Chinamarker 1933
8,064 1966 Xingtai earthquakemarker Chinamarker 1966
7,000 1968 Dasht-e Bayaz and Ferdows earthquakemarker Iranmarker 1968
6,433 Great Hanshin earthquakemarker Japanmarker 1995
6,000 1960 Valdivia earthquakemarker Chilemarker 1960
5,300 1974 Hunza earthquake Pakistanmarker 1974
4,000 1945 Balochistan earthquakemarker British India 1945
3,894 1948 Fukui earthquakemarker Japanmarker 1948
3,000 1933 Sanriku earthquakemarker Japanmarker 1933
3,000 1906 San Francisco earthquake United Statesmarker 1906


Ten deadliest volcanic eruptions

Death Toll Event Location Date
92,000 Mount Tamboramarker (see also Year Without a Summer) Indonesiamarker 01815-01-011815
36,000 Krakatoamarker Indonesiamarker 01883-08-26August 26–27, 1883
29,000 Mount Peléemarker Martiniquemarker 01902-05-07May 7 or May 8, 1902
23,000 Nevado del Ruizmarker Colombiamarker 01985-11-13November 13, 1985
25,000 Mount Vesuviusmarker Pompeii and Herculaneum,Italy 01631-01-01August 24th 79 AD
15,000 Mount Unzenmarker Japan 01792-01-011792
10,000 Mount Kelutmarker Indonesiamarker 01586-01-011586
9,350 Lakimarker. Killed about 25% of the population (33% were killed about 70 years before by smallpox) Icelandmarker 01783-06-08 June 8, 1783
6,000 Santa Mariamarker Guatemalamarker 01902-01-011902
5,115 Mount Kelutmarker Indonesiamarker 01919-05-19 May 19, 1919


Notes

A supervolcanic eruption at Lake Tobamarker around 74,000 years ago could have wiped out as much as 99% of the global human population, reducing the population from a possible 60 million to less than 10 thousand; see Toba catastrophe theory. However, this theory is not widely accepted because the evidence is disputed, and there have been, for instance, no remains found. The eruption is not listed here as it was pre-historic and outside the scope of this article. Also, the Thera eruptionmarker in the Aegean Seamarker between 1550 and 1650 B.C. may have caused a large number of deaths throughout the region, from Cretemarker to Egyptmarker. See also La Garita Calderamarker, Yellowstone Calderamarker, and Supervolcanoes.

References



Ten deadliest tsunamis



Death Toll Event Location Date
> 229,866 (sources vary) 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamimarker Indian Oceanmarker 2004
100,000 1755 Lisbon earthquakemarker/tsunami/fire Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, Moroccomarker, Irelandmarker, and the United Kingdommarker (Cornwallmarker) 1755
100,000 1908 Messinamarker earthquake/tsunami Messina, Italymarker 1908
36,000 caused by 1883 Krakatoamarker eruption Indonesiamarker 1883
30,000 Tōkaidō/Nankaido, Japanmarker 1707
27,000 Japanmarker 1826
25,674 1868 Aricamarker earthquake/tsunami Arica, Chilemarker 1868
22,070 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquakemarker Sanriku, Japanmarker 1896
15,030 caused by 1792 Mount Unzenmarker eruption in southwest Kyu-shu- Kyu-shu-, Japanmarker 1792


Limnic eruptions

Death Toll Event Location Date
1,746 Lake Nyosmarker Cameroonmarker 1986
37 Lake Monounmarker Cameroonmarker 1984


Extreme weather

Ten deadliest heat waves

Death Toll Event Location Date
37,451 2003 European heat wave Western Europe 02003-06-012003
3,418 2006 European heat wave United Kingdommarker, Germanymarker, Francemarker, Belgiummarker, Netherlandsmarker, Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, Romaniamarker 02006-01-012006
2,541 1998 India heat wave India 01998-01-011998
1,900 2003 India heat wave 2002 heatwave in India India 02003-01-012003
1,250–10,000 1980 United States heat wave United States 01980-01-011980
1,000–1,500 1987 Mediterranean heat wave Albaniamarker, Greecemarker, Bosniamarker, Serbiamarker, Turkeymarker, Italymarker 01987-01-011987
over 1,000 1994 East Asia heat wave China, Japan, South Korea 01994-01-011994
739 Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 United States (Chicago, Illinoismarker) 01995-01-011995
500 Hungary Heat Wave of 2007 Hungary 02007-01-012007
437 Southern regions, Australia 1895–1896 Australia 01895-01-011895–1896


Ten deadliest storms (non-cyclone)

Death Toll Event Location Date
15,100 Torrential rains and mudslides Venezuelamarker 1999
500 Lofoten, Heavy storm Norway 1849
? 250 Great Lakes Storm of 1913 United States and Canada (Great Lakesmarker region) 1913
242 1996 Amarnath Yatra tragedy India 1996
210 Trøndelag, storm ("Follastormen") Norway 1625
189 Eyemouth, Scotlandmarker, storm ("Black Friday") United Kingdom 1881
140 Trøndelag, storm ("Titran disaster") Norway 1899
96 Lofoten, storm Norway 1868
30 Haugesundmarker, storm ("Røvær disaster") Norway 1899
26 Vesterålenmarker, storm Norway 1802


Ten deadliest tornadoes

Death Toll Event Location Date
1,300 The Saturia-Manikganj Sadar Tornado Bangladeshmarker (Manikganjmarker) 1989
923 1969 East Pakistan Tornado Bangladeshmarker 1969
695 The Tri-State Tornado United States (MissourimarkerIllinoismarkerIndianamarker) March 18, 1925
681 1973 Dhaka Tornado Bangladeshmarker 1973
600 The Malta Tornado Maltamarker 1551
500 The Sicily Tornado Italy 1851
500 The Narail-Magura Tornadoes Bangladeshmarker (Jessoremarker) 1964
500 The Comoro Tornado Comoro 1951
440 The Tangailmarker Tornado Bangladeshmarker 1996
400 Ivanovo, Yaroslavl Tornado Russia 1984


Ten deadliest cyclones

Death Toll Event Location Date
500,000 1970 Bhola cyclone Bangladeshmarker (East Pakistan) 1970
300,000 1839 Indian cyclone India 1839
300,000 1881 Haiphong Typhoon Vietnammarker 1881
300,000 1737 Calcutta cyclone India 1737
210,000 Super Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dammarker failure China 1975
200,000 Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876 present day Bangladeshmarker 1876
~146,000 Cyclone Nargis Myanmarmarker 2008
138,866 1991 Bangladesh cyclone Bangladeshmarker 1991
100,000 1882 Bombay cyclone Bombay, Indiamarker June 6, 1882
60,000 1922 Swatow Typhoon China 1922
60,000 1864 Calcutta Cyclone India 1864


References



Ten deadliest floods and landslides

Death Toll Event Location Date
2,500,000–3,700,000 1931 China floods China 1931
900,000–2,000,000 1887 Yellow River flood China 1887
500,000–700,000 1938 Yellow River flood China 1938
231,000 Banqiao Dammarker failure, result of Typhoon Nina. Approximately 86,000 people died from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent disease. China 1975
145,000 1935 Yangtze river floodmarker China 1935
more than 100,000 St. Felix's Flood, storm surge Netherlands 1530
100,000 Hanoimarker and Red River Delta flood North Vietnam 1971
100,000 1911 Yangtze river floodmarker China 1911
50,000–80,000 St. Lucia's flood, storm surge Netherlands 1287
60,000 North Sea flood, storm surge Netherlands 1212


Ten deadliest wildfires and bushfires

Death Toll Event Location Date
1,200–2,500 Peshtigo Fire, Wisconsinmarker United States 1871
1,200 Kursha-2, Ryazan Oblast, RSFSR Soviet Unionmarker 1936
453 Cloquet Fire, Minnesotamarker United States 1918
418 Great Hinckley Fire, Minnesotamarker United States 1894
282 Thumb Fire, Michiganmarker United States 1881
240 Sumatramarker, Kalimantan Indonesiamarker 1997
233 Matheson Fire, Ontariomarker Canada 1916
230 Landesmarker region France 1949
213 Greater Hingganmarker, Heilongjiangmarker China 1987
173 Black Saturday bushfires Australia 2009
160 Miramichi Firemarker, New Brunswickmarker Canada 1825


References

References



Ten deadliest blizzards

Death Toll Event Location Date
4,000 Iran Blizzard Iranmarker 1972
1,337 2008 Afghanistan blizzard Afghanistanmarker 2008
400 Great Blizzard of 1888 United States 1888
318 1993 North American Storm Complex United States 1993
235 Schoolhouse Blizzard United States 1888
199 Hakko-da Mountains incident Japan 1902
144 Armistice Day Blizzard United States 1940
133 2008 Chinese winter storms China 2008
112 1995 Kazakh Blizzard Kazakhstanmarker 1995
54 Blizzard of 1978 United States 1978


Contractible diseases

Death Toll Event Location Date
approx. 300,000,000 Smallpox Worldwide 01901-01-0120th century alone
approx. 100,000,000 Bubonic Plague: Black Death Asia, Europe, Africa 01300-01-011300s–1720s
? 200,000,000 Measles Worldwide 01851-01-01last 150 years
80,000,000–250,000,000 Malaria Worldwide 01900-01-0120th century –
50,000,000–100,000,000 Spanish Flu Worldwide 01918-01-011918–1919
40,000,000–100,000,000 Tuberculosis Worldwide 01900-01-0120th century –
approx. 40,000,000 Bubonic Plague: Plague of Justinian Asia, Europe, Africa 00540-01-01540–590
25,250,000 AIDS Worldwide 01981-01-011981–present (as of 2010)
? 12,000,000 Bubonic Plague: Third Pandemic Worldwide 01850-01-011850s–1950s
5,000,000 Antonine Plague Roman Empire 00165-01-01165–180
4,000,000 Asian Flu pandemic Worldwide 01957-01-011957
750,000 Hong Kong Flu pandemic Worldwide 01968-01-011968
6,255 (As of 10 September, 2009) 2009 flu pandemic Worldwide 02009-01-01April 2009–present
775 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Mostly East Asia, few cases in Europe, Canadamarker and United Statesmarker 02002-01-012002–2003
677 West Nile Virus outbreak North America 01999-01-011999–2004
256 H5N1 strain of Bird Flu (mainly in Asia, few in Africa and Middle East) 02003-01-012003–present (as of 2007)


Famines

Please Note: Some of these famines may be partially or completely caused by humans.
Death Toll Event Location Date
4,900,000–43,000,000 Great Chinese Famine Chinamarker 1958–1961
Chinese Famine of 1907 Chinamarker 1907
19,000,000 Indian Famine India 1896–1902
15,000,000 Bengal famine of 1770, incl. Bihar & Orissa India 1769–1771
13,000,000 Northern Chinese Famine Chinamarker 1876–1879
10,000,000 Southern and Central Indian Famine India 1876–1879
7,500,000 Great European Famine Europe (all) 1315–1317
5,000,000 Chinese Famine of 1936 Chinamarker 1936
5,000,000 Soviet famine of 1932–1933 Soviet Unionmarker 1932–1934
5,000,000 Russian famine of 1921 Russia, Ukraine 1921–1922
4,000,000 Bengal famine of 1943 India 1943
3,000,000 Chinese Drought 1941 Chinamarker 1941
3,000,000 Chinese Famine of 1928–1930 Chinamarker 1928–1930
2,000,000 Russian famine of 1601–1603 Russiamarker (Muscovy) 1601–1603
1,000,000-1,500,000 Great Irish Famine Irelandmarker 1846–1849
2,000,000 Vietnamese War Famine Vietnammarker 1943–1945
1,500,000–3,000,000 Bengal Famine of 1943 India 1943
1,200,000 North Korean famine North Koreamarker 1996–1998
1,000,000 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia 1984
1,000,000 Horn of Africa famine Ethiopiamarker, Sudanmarker, Somaliamarker 1888
26,000-1,000,000 Bangladesh famine of 1974—Official records claim 26,000. However, various sources claim about 1,000,000. Bangladeshmarker 1974
150,000 Finnish famine of 1866–1868 Finlandmarker 1866–1868
18,000 Dutch famine of 1944 The Netherlandsmarker 1944


See also

Other lists organized by death toll

Footnotes

  1. The world's worst natural disasters
  2. Italy's earthquake history, BBC News
  3. 10 'Worst' Natural Disasters
  4. Hurricanes: case studies
  5. Worst Natural Disasters In History
  6. Famine & Disaster Statistics
  7. Torrey EF and Yolken RH. 2005. Their bugs are worse than their bite. Washington Post, April 3, p. B01.
  8. 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, CDC


External links




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