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Natural Disasters

List of natural disasters by death toll

Thanks to Wikipedia

List of natural disasters by death toll. (2017, March 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:26, March 18th, 2017, from

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

RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
11,000,000–4,000,000*[1]1931 China floodsChinaJuly 1931
2900,000–2,000,000[2]1887 Yellow River floodChinaSeptember 1887
3830,000[3]1556 Shaanxi earthquakeChinaJanuary 23, 1556
4450,000 (242,000–655,000)1976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 28, 1976
5375,000 (250,000–500,000)[1]1970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 13, 1970
6300,000[4]1839 India cycloneIndiaNovember 26, 1839
7300,000[5]1737 Calcutta cycloneIndiaOctober 7, 1737
8280,0002004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamiIndian OceanDecember 26, 2004
9273,400[6]1920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 16, 1920
10250,000–300,000[7]526 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)May 526

* 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 several volcanic eruptions with uncertain death tolls resulting from collateral effects (crop failures, etc.), though these may have numbered in the millions; see List of volcanic eruptions by death toll.

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 Peter Hough in his 2008 book Global Security.[8]

Ten deadliest natural disasters since 1900

RankDeath toll (estimate)Event*LocationDate
1.1,000,000–4,000,0001931 China floodsChinaJuly 1931
2.450,000 (242,000–655,000)1976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 28, 1976
3.375,000 (250,000–500,000)1970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 1970
4.280,0002004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamiIndian OceanDecember 26, 2004
5.273,4001920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 16, 1920
6.229,000Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failureChinaAugust 7, 1975
7.160,000[9]2010 Haiti earthquakeHaitiJanuary 12, 2010
8.145,0001935 Yangtze river floodChina1935
9.143,0001923 Great Kanto earthquakeJapanSeptember 1, 1923
10.138,8661991 Bangladesh cycloneBangladeshApril 1991

This list does not include industrial or technological accidents, epidemics, or the 1938 Yellow River flood.

Lists of natural disasters by cause

Ten deadliest avalanches

Main articles: Avalanches and List of avalanches
RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
1.20,0001970 Huascarán avalanche; triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake[10]Peru1970
2.10,000Tyrolean Alps Avalanche[11][12]Italy1916
3.4,0001962 Huascarán avalanche[10]Peru1962
4.3102015 Afghanistan avalanchesAfghanistan2015
5.265Winter of TerrorAustriaSwitzerland1951
6.2012012 Afghanistan avalanchesAfghanistan2012
7.1722010 Salang avalanchesAfghanistan2010
8.1402012 Siachen Glacier avalanchePakistan2012
9.125Kolka-Karmadon rock ice slideRussia2002
10.1022010 Kohistan avalanchePakistan2010

Ten deadliest tropical cyclones

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.375,000 (250,000–500,000)1970 Bhola cycloneEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)November 13, 1970
2.300,000[4]1839 India CycloneIndiaNovember 25, 1839
2.300,000[5]1737 Calcutta cycloneIndiaOctober 7, 1737
4.229,000Super Typhoon Nina—contributed to Banqiao Dam failureChinaAugust 7, 1975
5.200,000[13]Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876India (now Bangladesh)October 30, 1876
6.150,000 (30,000 to 300,000)[14]1881 Haiphong TyphoonVietnamOctober 8, 1881
7.138,8661991 Bangladesh cycloneBangladeshApril 29, 1991
8.138,366Cyclone NargisMyanmarMay 2, 2008
9.100,000[15]1882 Bombay cycloneIndia1882
10.80,000[16]1874 Bengal cycloneIndiaOctober 1874

52 deadliest earthquakes

RankDeath toll (estimate)EventLocationDate
1.830,0001556 Shaanxi earthquakeChinaJanuary 23, 1556
2.650,000–779,000[17][18][19]1976 Tangshan earthquakeChinaJuly 28, 1976
3.280,0002004 Indian Ocean earthquakeIndonesiaDecember 26, 2004
4.273,400[6]1920 Haiyuan earthquakeChinaDecember 16, 1920
5.250,000–300,000[7]526 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)May 526
6.260,000[20]115 Antioch earthquakeRoman Empire (now Turkey)December 13, 115
7.230,0001138 Aleppo earthquakeZengid dynasty (now Syria)October 11, 1138
8.200,000[21]1303 Hongdong earthquakeMongol Empire (now China)September 17, 1303
9.200,000856 Damghan earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)December 22, 856
10.200,000[22]1780 Tabriz earthquakeIranJanuary 8, 1780
11.170,000[23]896 Udaipur earthquakeIndia896
12.160,000[9]2010 Haiti earthquakeHaitiJanuary 12, 2010
13.150,000893 Ardabil earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)March 23, 893
14.142,807[24][25]1923 Great Kanto earthquakeJapanSeptember 1, 1923
15.130,000[26]533 Aleppo earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Syria)November 29, 533
16.123,000[1]1908 Messina earthquakeItalyDecember 28, 1908
17.110,0001948 Ashgabat earthquakeTurkmen SSR, Soviet Union (now Turkmenistan)October 5, 1948
18.100,0001290 Chihli earthquakeMongol Empire (now China)September 27, 1290
19.100,000[27]2005 Kashmir earthquakePakistan (Azad Kashmir)October 8, 2005
20.87,587[28][29]2008 Sichuan earthquakeChinaMay 12, 2008
21.80,000[30]1721 Tabriz earthquakeIranApril 26, 1721
22.80,000[31]458 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)September 458
23.80,0001667 Shamakhi earthquakeSafavid dynasty (now Azerbaijan)November 1667
24.80,0001854 Great Nankaidō earthquakeJapanNovember 1854
25.80,000[32][33]1169 Aleppo earthquakeZengid dynasty (now Syria)1169
26.77,0001727 Tabriz earthquakeIranNovember 18, 1727
27.73,000[34]1718 Gansu earthquakeQing Empire (now China)June 19, 1718
28.70,0001970 Ancash earthquakePeruMay 31, 1970[35]
29.70,000[36]1033 Ramala earthquakeFatimid Caliphate (now West Bank)December 10, 1033
30.70,000[37]847 Damascus earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Syria)847
31.70,000[38]1868 Ecuador earthquakesEcuadorAugust 15, 1868 and August 16, 1868
32.60,000[39]587 Antioch earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Turkey)September 30, 587
33.60,000[40]1101 Khorasan earthquakeGreat Seljuq Empire (now Iran)1101
34.60,0001268 Cilicia earthquakeArmenian Kingdom of Cilicia (now Turkey)1268
35.60,0001693 Sicily earthquakeKingdom of Sicily (now Italy)January 11, 1693
36.60,0001935 Quetta earthquakeIndia (now part of Pakistan)May 31, 1935
37.50,000[41]844 Damascus earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Syria)September 18, 844
38.50,000[42]1042 Tabriz earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)November 4, 1042
39.50,0001783 Calabrian earthquakesKingdom of Naples (now Italy)1783
40.50,0001990 Manjil–Rudbar earthquakeIranJune 21, 1990
41.40,000–50,000[43]1755 Lisbon earthquakePortugalNovember 1, 1755
42.45,000[44]850 Iran earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Iran)July 15, 850
43.45,000[45]856 Corinth earthquakeByzantine Empire (now Greece)November 856
44.45,000[46][47]856 Tunisia earthquakeAbbasid Caliphate (now Tunisia)December 3, 856
45.42,571[48]1668 Shandong earthquakeQing Empire (now China)July 25, 1668
46.40,9001927 Gulang earthquakeGansu, ChinaMay 22, 1927
47.40,000[49]342 Antioch earthquakeRoman Empire (now Turkey)342
48.40,000[50]662 Damghan earthquakeUmayyad Caliphate (now Iran)April 26, 662
49.40,000[51]1455 Naples earthquakeCrown of Aragon (now Italy)December 5, 1455
50.40,000[52]1754 Cairo earthquakeOttoman Empire (now Egypt)September 2, 1754
51.40,000[53]1755 Tabriz earthquakeIranJune 7, 1755
52.40,0001797 Riobamba earthquakeSpanish Empire (now Ecuador)February 4, 1797

20 deadliest famines

Note: Some of these famines may be caused or partially caused by humans.

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.15,000,000–43,000,000Great Chinese FamineChina1958–1961
2.25,000,000[citation needed]Chinese Famine of 1907China1907
3.13,000,000[54]Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–1879China1876–1879
4.11,000,000Doji bara famine or Skull famineIndia1789–1792
5.10,000,000Bengal famine of 1770, incl. Bihar & OrissaIndia1769–1771
6.6,000,000+Indian FamineBritish India1896–1902
7.7,500,000Great European FamineEurope (all)1315–1317
8.7,000,000–10,000,000Soviet famine of 1932–1933 (Holodomor in Ukraine)Soviet Union1932–1934
9.5,250,000Indian Great Famine of 1876–78India1876–1878
10.5,000,000Chinese Famine of 1936China1936
11.5,000,000Russian famine of 1921Russia, Ukraine1921–1922
12.3,000,000Chinese famine of 1928–1930China1928–1930
13.2,000,000–3,000,000Chinese Drought 1941China1942-1943
14.2,000,000Russian famine of 1601–1603Russia (Muscovy)1601–1603
15.2,000,000Deccan Famine of 1630–32India1630–1632
16.2,000,000Upper Doab famine of 1860–61India1860–1861
17.2,000,000French FamineFrance1693–1694
18.2,000,000Great Persian Famine of 1870–71Persia1870-1871
19.1,500,000–7,000,000Bengal Famine of 1943India1943
20.1,500,000Great Irish FamineIreland1846–1849

Ten deadliest floods / 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.

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.1,000,000–4,000,000[55]1931 China floodsChina1931
2.900,000–2,000,0001887 Yellow River (Huang He) floodChina1887
3.229,000[56]Failure of 62 dams, the largest of which was Banqiao Dam, result of Typhoon Nina.China1975
4.145,0001935 Yangtze river floodChina1935
5.more than 100,000St. Felix’s Flood, storm surgeNetherlands1530
6.100,000Hanoi and Red River Delta floodNorth Vietnam1971
7.up to 100,000[citation needed]1911 Yangtze River floodChina1911
8.50,000–80,000St. Lucia’s flood, storm surgeNetherlands1287
9.60,000North Sea flood, storm surgeNetherlands1212
10.36,000St. Marcellus flood, storm surgeNetherlands1219

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).

Contractible diseases

The following text needs to be harmonized with text in List of epidemics.
Death Toll ?Event ?Location ?Date ?
approx. 300,000,000SmallpoxWorldwide01901-01-0120th century alone[8]
approx. 100,000,000Bubonic Plague: Black DeathAsia, Europe, Africa01300-01-011300s–1720s
= 200,000,000MeaslesWorldwide01851-01-01last 150 years[9]
80,000,000–250,000,000MalariaWorldwide01900-01-0120th century – present[update]
50,000,000–100,000,000Spanish FluWorldwide01918-01-011918–1919[10]
40,000,000–100,000,000TuberculosisWorldwide01900-01-0120th century – present[update][9]
approx. 40,000,000Bubonic Plague: Plague of JustinianAsia, Europe, Africa00540-01-01540–590
25,250,000AIDSWorldwide01981-01-011981–present (as of 2007)
= 12,000,000Bubonic Plague: Third PandemicWorldwide01850-01-011850s–1950s
5,000,000Antonine PlagueRoman Empire00165-01-01165–180
4,000,000Asian Flu pandemicWorldwide01957-01-011957
750,000Hong Kong Flu pandemicWorldwide01968-01-011968
775Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)Mostly East Asia, few cases in Europe, Canada and United States02002-01-012002–2003
677West Nile Virus outbreakNorth America01999-01-011999–2004
256H5N1 strain of Bird Flu(mainly in Asia, few in Africa and Middle East)02003-01-012003–present (as of 2007)


The following text needs to be harmonized with text in List of famines.
Please Note: Some of these famines may be partially or completely caused by humans.
Death Toll ?Event ?Location ?Date ?
4,900,000–43,000,000Great Chinese FamineChina1958–1961
24,000,000Chinese Famine of 1907China1907
19,000,000Indian FamineIndia1896–1902
15,000,000Bengal famine of 1770, incl. Bihar & OrissaIndia1769–1771
13,000,000Northern Chinese FamineChina1876–1879
10,000,000Southern and Central Indian FamineIndia1876–1879
7,500,000Great European FamineEurope (all)1315–1317
5,000,000Chinese Famine of 1936China1936
5,000,000Soviet famine of 1932–1933Soviet Union1932–1934
5,000,000Russian famine of 1921Russia, Ukraine1921–1922
4,000,000Bengal famine of 1943India1943
3,000,000Chinese Drought 1941China1941
3,000,000Chinese Famine of 1928–1930China1928–1930
2,000,000Russian famine of 1601–1603Russia (Muscovy)1601–1603
1,000,000-1,500,000Great Irish FamineIreland (part of UK)1846–1849
2,000,000Vietnamese War FamineVietnam1943–1945
1,500,000–3,000,000Bengal Famine of 1943India1943
1,200,000North Korean famineNorth Korea1996–1998
1,000,0001984–1985 famine in EthiopiaEthiopia1984
1,000,000Horn of Africa famineEthiopia, Sudan, Somalia1888
26,000-1,000,000Bangladesh famine of 1974—Official records claim 26,000. However, various sources claim about 1,000,000.Bangladesh1974
150,000Finnish famine of 1866–1868Finland1866–1868
18,000Dutch famine of 1944The Netherlands1944


See also

Updated: March 18, 2017 — 12:56 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 20th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural Missouri, just a few miles from the Big Muddy. Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises. Since 1997, he has provided guidance, authentic government survival history, and commentary on why we all need to get ready for that fateful day in the future, when we have to get our hands dirty and step in to save the day. He is an award winning videographer (2005 Telly Award), has received state and national scholarly recognition (2006 New Century Scholar and All USA Academic Team), and is a natural with computers, technology, gadgets, small furry mammals, and anything on wheels. Rich likes making friends, solving problems, and creating solutions to everyday issues. He doesn't mind mixing things up, when there is a teaching moment ready to happen. As a constitutional conservative, he's staying quite busy these days. The SurvivalRing Radio Show at will be coming back SOON!

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