Earthquakes, droughts, floods, cyclones and every other natural changes would have remained a type of geographical phenomena had there was no civilization to suffer. The sole reason that these natural and geographical changes have started been termed as natural calamities and disasters is that their violent nature has caused irreparable damage to human life and property since centuries. Ever since this planet came into being, like every other planet, it has often been subject to natural and geographical changes but since it started inhibiting living creatures these changes have started to be recorded and documented by human beings.
As much as one would like to make the list of ranking these natural disasters objective but it is bound to remain inconclusive of all the worst disasters of all times because there have been many natural disasters and calamities in which the loss of human life and property could never have been quantified as they long ago. For instance, it is believed that Stroggli- a Mediterranean island was completely wiped out by a ensuing tsunami and a volcanic eruption that resulted in the destruction of the whole Minoan civilization around 1500 B.C., although the scientists are still to estimate the death toll. Earthquakes and floods have been the primary reason behind the ten worst natural calamities and disasters killing more than 10 million people. Take a look below for our list of 10 of the worst natural calamities and disasters in the world.
1. The Yellow River Flood in China, 1931
This earthquake is one of the most prime reasons why the 20th century is called as the deadliest century in human history. Among various other reasons why the Yellow river is called the sorrow of China is that it has brought only misery for the Chinese people. This deadly flood wiped the land mass area of 88, 000 sq. km resulting in the death of between 1-4 million numbers of people excluding those who died from the Asian flu.
2. The Yellow River Flood in China, 1887
The Huang-He region of China which is an expanse of flatlands is always prone to floods. The worst flood in the history of mankind and the second worst disaster in the history struck the Henan province of China in the year 1887. The flood caused by the Yellow river devastated 11 Chinese towns and thousands of villages. Approximately 2 million people were rendered homeless due to the floods and the epidemic that followed the floods also took thousands of lives.
3. Shaanxi Earthquake
The geographical location of China is the most seismically active zone in the world making it prone to natural disasters more often than not. It is because of this reason only that it suffered 8 disastrous earthquakes since 1990s. The 8.1 magnitude Shaanxi earthquake is the brutal earthquake in the history of the world as well as China. It struck the central part of China in the year 1556 killing more than 655,000 people and injuring 780, 000 people. It is believed that this earthquake this earthquake reduced the population of the Shaanxi province by 60%.
4. Bhola Cyclone in Bangladesh, 1970
The Bhola cyclone is considered to be the deadliest cyclone to have ever struck anywhere across the world. This cyclone struck Bangladesh erstwhile East Pakistan and some parts of India’s West Bengal on November 12, 1970 causing floods in the almost all the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This was one of the cruelest forms of nature’s fury killing more than 500,000 people from floods caused from the cyclone’s storms and the raised water levels which overtook the shores. While one would like believe that this cyclone must have taught some lessons to the state establishments in each of the two countries but to one’s surprise the governments continued to be in state of inertia till the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone again.
5. The Haiti Earthquake, 2010
This is the most recent natural and most cruel disaster which caused perhaps the biggest loss of human life to have ever occurred due to an earthquake. This earthquake had the intensity of 7.0 on the Richter scale and was followed by 52 aftershocks each of magnitude greater than 4.5. This horrific disaster affected more than 600, 000 people, killing more than 316, 000 and injuring around 300, 000 people. Another shocking fact about this disaster is that brought down around 280, 000 buildings with its might.
6. Antioch Earthquake
The Antioch earthquake which struck the city of Antioch, in the present Antakya, Turkey also had a major impact in Syria. This earthquake is recorded to have struck Antioch between May 20 and May 29 in the mid-spring of 526 A.D. The city of Antioch was extremely important from the commercial point of view as it was situated in the trading route between Europe and the entire East. This natural disaster was also recorded in great detail in the tradition of that period. Historical evidence suggests that this earthquake took life of more than 250, 000 people. Further aggravating the problem, this earthquake was followed by fire which caused huge destruction to most of the buildings.
7. Tangshan Earthquake
The 8.2-magnitude Tangshan earthquake hit the industrial city of Tangshan in China on July 28, 1976. This city inhabited more than a million people who were at the receiving end of nature’s fury when this earthquake struck near the industrial area. It was a matter of just 15 seconds for this disastrous earthquake to turn a flourishing industrial city into ashes killing more than 242, 000 people. The refusal by the Chinese government to accept international aid further aggravated the problem after their incompetence was exposed. Initially, the Chinese government underestimated the death toll. It took them more than a year to arrive at a accurate estimation of the loss of lives and property.
8. Haiyuan Earthquake
On December 16, 1920, the Haiyuan County of the Ningxia Province in the republic of China was struck by a devastating earthquake. This is also known as Gansu earthquake because in 1920, the Ningxia province was part of the erstwhile Gansu province. The catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the world prepared by the International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake in Japan estimates the death toll in this disaster to be 235, 502. This earthquake was one of the highest intensity earthquakes in the Chinese history causing havoc at a very large scale.
9. Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
This earthquake with its epicenter somewhere in the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia caused a devastating tsunami with a magnitude of 9.3 on the Richter scale on December 26, 2004. If the US Geological Survey is to be believed then the amount of energy that this earthquake produced was equivalent to the amount of energy produced by 23, 000 Hiroshima like atomic bombs. The devastating tsunamis triggered by this earthquake killed more than 2,30, 000 people in over 14 countries. Third largest earthquake to have ever recorded in the Seismograph, this earthquake had the longest duration of about 10 minutes causing the entire planet to vibrate.
10. Earthquake in Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo, situated in the north direction of the Dead Sea, was the largest city of Syria when it was struck by the perhaps one of the most brutally powerful earthquakes in the history. This earthquake came in a sequence of two- the first one in the year 1138 and the subsequent one in 1139. Geologists have estimated this earthquake to be of a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter magnitude scale. Historical evidences suggest that the destruction and havoc of this earthquake took approximately 2, 30,000 lives. Aleppo was located on the boundary between the Arabian and African geological plate making it a part of Dead Sea Fault System.