Top 10 Deadliest Natural Disasters

Top 10 Deadliest Natural Disasters


A natural disaster is the consequence of a natural hazard (e.g. volcanic eruption, earthquake, landslide) which moves from potential in to an active phase, and as a result affects human activities. In some cases these disasters have lead to the loss of millions of lives. This is a list of the top 10 natural disasters (ranked by number of fatalities). From fewest to most killed:

10. Aleppo Earthquake – 1138, Syria [Deaths: 230,000]

Engl Citadel From Left Replace
The Citadel at Aleppo

Aleppo is located along the northern part of the Dead Sea Transform system of geologic faults, which is a plate boundary separating the Arabian plate from the African plate. The earthquake was the beginning of the first of two intense sequences of earthquakes in the region: October 1138 to June 1139 and a much more intense series from September 1156 to May 1159.

The worst hit area was Harim, where Crusaders had built a large citadel. Sources indicate that the castle was destroyed and the church fell in on itself. The fort of Atharib, then occupied by Muslims, was destroyed. The citadel also collapsed, killing 600 of the castle guard, though the governor and some servants survived, and fled to Mosul.

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9. Indian Ocean Earthquake – 2004, Indian Ocean [Deaths: 230,000]

The tsunami hits

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing large numbers of people and inundating coastal communities.

The magnitude of the earthquake was originally recorded as 9.0, but has been increased to between 9.1 and 9.3. At this magnitude, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. It was large enough that it caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as half an inch, or over a centimetre.

8. Banqiao Dam Failure – 1975, China [Deaths: 231,000]

The dam After it failed

Banqiao Dam was designed to survive a 1-in-1,000-year flood (306 mm (12 inches) rainfall per day). In August of 1975, however, a 1-in-2,000 year flood occurred, pouring more than a year’s rainfall in 24 hours, which weather forecasts failed to predict. The sluice gates were not able to handle the overflow of water, partially due to sedimentation blockage. As a result of the blockage, 64 dams failed.

When the dam finally burst, it caused a large wave, which was 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide, 3-7 meters (9-23 feet) high, to rush downwards into the plains below at nearly 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph). It almost wiped out an area 55 kilometers long, 15 kilometers wide, and created temporary lakes as large as 12,000 km² (4,600 square miles). Evacuation orders had not been fully delivered because of weather conditions and poor communications.

7. Tangshan Earthquake – 1976, China [Deaths: 242,000]

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Aftermath of the quake

The Tangshan earthquake is one of the largest earthquakes to hit the modern world, in terms of the loss of life. The epicentre of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, China, an industrial city with approximately one million inhabitants. The earthquake hit in the early morning, at 03:42:53.8 local time (1976 July 27 19:42:53.8 UTC), and lasted for around 15 seconds. Chinese Government’s official sources state 7.8 on the Richter magnitude scale, though some sources list it as 8.2. It was the first earthquake in recent history to score a direct hit on a major city.

The People’s Republic of China government refused to accept international aid, and its own efforts were criticized as inadequate. It was also criticized for having ignored scientists’ warnings of the need to prepare for an earthquake. The ramifications of the political situation created, largely contributed to the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

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