Dec 13, 115 to Present
WorldwideA natural disaster is a sudden event that causes widespread destruction, major 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. To be classified as a disaster, it will have profound environmental effect and/or human loss and frequently incurs financial loss.
The 115 Antioch earthquake occurred on 13 December 115 AD. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the surface wave magnitude scale and an estimated maximum intensity of XI (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. The origin of the reported death toll of 260,000 is uncertain, as it only appears in catalogues of about the last hundred years.
The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (from the name of the Greek physician living in the Roman Empire who described it), was an ancient pandemic brought back to the Roman Empire by troops returning from campaigns in the Near East. The disease broke out again nine years later, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius (155–235), causing up to 2,000 deaths a day in Rome, one quarter of those who were affected, giving the disease a mortality rate of about 25%. The total deaths have been estimated at five million, and the disease killed as much as one-third of the population in some areas and devastated the Roman army.
The 365 Crete earthquake occurred at about sunrise on 21 July 365 in the Eastern Mediterranean, with an assumed epicentre near Crete. Geologists today estimate the undersea earthquake to have been a magnitude 8.0 or higher. The Crete earthquake was followed by a tsunami which devastated the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, particularly Libya, Alexandria and the Nile Delta, killing thousands and hurling ships 3 km (1.9 mi) inland.
The 526 Antioch earthquake hit Syria (region) and Antioch in the Byzantine Empire in 526. It struck during late May, probably between 20–29 May, at mid-morning, killing approximately 250,000 people. The earthquake was followed by a fire that destroyed most of the buildings left standing by the earthquake. The maximum intensity in Antioch is estimated to be between VIII (Severe) and IX (Violent) on the Mercalli intensity scale.
The Plague of Justinian (541–542 AD) was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and especially its capital, Constantinople, as well as the Sasanian Empire, and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea, as merchant ships harbored rats that carried fleas infected with plague. Some historians believe the plague of Justinian was one of the deadliest pandemics in history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25–50 million people during two centuries of recurrence, a death toll equivalent to 13–26% of the world's population at the time of the first outbreak.
The 856 Damghan earthquake or the 856 Qumis earthquake occurred on 22 December 856 (242 AH). The earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 7.9, and a maximum intensity of X (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. The earthquake's epicenter is estimated to be close to the city of Damghan, which was then the capital of the Persian province of Qumis. It caused approximately 200,000 deaths and is listed by the USGS as the sixth deadliest earthquake in recorded history.
Several earthquake catalogues and historical sources describe the 893 Ardabil earthquake as a destructive earthquake that struck the city of Ardabil, Iran, on 23 March 893. The magnitude is unknown, but the death toll was reported to be very large. The USGS, in their "List of Earthquakes with 50,000 or More Deaths", give an estimate that 150,000 were killed, which would make it the ninth deadliest earthquake in history.
The 1990 Manjil–Rudbar earthquake occurred on June 21 at 00:30:14 local time in northern Iran. The shock had a moment magnitude of 7.4 and a Mercalli Intensity of X (Extreme). Widespread damage occurred to the northwest of the capital city of Tehran, including the cities of Rudbar and Manjil. The National Geophysical Data Center estimated that $8 billion in damage occurred in the affected area. Other earthquake catalogs presented estimates of the loss of life in the range of 35,000–50,000, with a further 60,000–105,000 that were injured.
The 1997 group of forest fires in Indonesia that lasted well into 1998 were probably among the two or three, if not the largest, forest fires group in the last two centuries of recorded history. In the middle of 1997 forest fires burning in Indonesia began to affect neighbouring countries, spreading thick clouds of smoke and haze to Malaysia and Singapore. A total of 240 people perished in the wildfires.
The 1138 Aleppo earthquake was among the deadliest earthquakes in history. Its name was taken from the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, where the most casualties were sustained. The quake occurred on 11 October 1138 and was preceded by a smaller quake on the 10th. However, the figure of 230,000 dead is based on a historical conflation of this earthquake with earthquakes in November 1137 on the Jazira plain and the large seismic event of 30 September 1139 in the Transcaucasian city of Ganja. The first mention of a 230,000 death toll was by Ibn Taghribirdi in the fifteenth century.
St. Lucia's flood (Sint-Luciavloed) was a storm tide that affected the Netherlands and Northern Germany on 14 December 1287, the day after St. Lucia Day, killing approximately 50,000 to 80,000 people in one of the largest floods in recorded history.
The 1290 Chihli earthquake occurred on 27 September with an epicenter near Ningcheng, Zhongshu Sheng (Zhili or Chihli), Yuan Empire. The earthquake had an estimated surface wave magnitude of 6.8 and a maximum felt intensity of IX (Violent) on the Mercalli intensity scale. One estimate places the death toll at 7,270, while another has it at 100,000.
The 1303 Hongdong earthquake occurred in China, then part of the Mongol Empire, on September 25. The shock was estimated to have a magnitude of 8.0 and it had a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). With catastrophic damage, it was one of the deadliest recorded earthquakes of all time. In Taiyuan and Pingyang, nearly 100,000 houses collapsed and over 200,000 people died from collapsing buildings and loess caves in a similar manner to the situation that would be experienced 253 years later in the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake (陕西).
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 (occasionally dated 1315–1322) was the first of a series of large-scale crises that struck Europe early in the 14th century. Most of Europe (extending east to Russia and south to Italy) was affected. The famine caused millions of deaths (7,500,000) over an extended number of years and marked a clear end to the period of growth and prosperity from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence (Pest for short), the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.
Saint Marcellus' flood or Grote Mandrenke was a massive southwesterly Atlantic gale (also known as a European windstorm) which swept across the British Isles, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark (including Schleswig/Southern Jutland) around 16 January 1362, causing at minimum 25,000 deaths.
The Ch'ing-yang event of 1490 (also Ch'ing-yang, Chi-ing-yang or Chíing-yang meteor shower) is a presumed meteor shower or air burst in Qingyang in March or April 1490. The area was in the province of Shaanxi but is now part of Gansu. If a meteor shower did occur, it may have been the result of the disintegration of an asteroid during an atmospheric entry air burst. More than 10,000 people were struck dead. All of the people in the city fled to other places.
The 1498 Nankai earthquake (明応地震 Meiō Jishin) occurred off the coast of Nankaidō, Japan, at about 08:00 local time on 20 September 1498. It had a magnitude estimated at 8.6 Ms and triggered a large tsunami. The death toll associated with this event is uncertain, but between 5,000 and 41,000 casualties were reported.
The St. Felix's flood (in Dutch Sint-Felixvloed) happened on Saturday, 5 November 1530, the name day of St. Felix. This day was later known as Evil Saturday (kwade zaterdag). Large parts of Flanders and Zeeland were washed away, including the Verdronken Land van Reimerswaal. According to Audrey M. Lambert, "all the Oost Wetering of Zuid-Beveland was lost, save only the town of Reimerswaal." More than 100,000 were killed in Netherlands by the St. Felix's flood.
The 1556 Shaanxi earthquake or Huaxian earthquake is the deadliest earthquake in recorded history: according to imperial records approximately 830,000 people lost their lives. It occurred on the morning of 23 January 1556 in Shaanxi, during the Ming Dynasty. More than 97 counties in the provinces of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Gansu, Hebei, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu and Anhui were affected.
The Deccan famine of 1630–1632 was a famine in the Deccan Plateau and Gujarat. The famine was the result of three consecutive staple crop failures, leading to intense hunger, disease, and displacement in the region. This famine remains one of the most devastating famines in the history of India, and was the most serious famine to occur in the Mughal Empire. The Dutch report gives an overall death toll of 7.4 million by late 1631, which might be for the whole region.
The 1667 Shamakhi earthquake occurred on 25 November 1667 with an epicenter close to the city of Shamakhi, Azerbaijan (then part of Safavid Iran). It had an estimated surface wave magnitude of 6.9 and a maximum felt intensity of X (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. An estimated 80,000 people died.
The 1693 Sicily earthquake struck parts of southern Italy near Sicily, Calabria, and Malta on January 11 at around 21:00 local time. The main quake had an estimated magnitude of 7.4 on the moment magnitude scale, the most powerful in Italian recorded history, and a maximum intensity of XI (Extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale, destroying at least 70 towns and cities, seriously affecting an area of 5,600 square kilometres (2,200 sq mi) and causing the death of about 60,000 people.
The 1707 Hōei earthquake (Hōei jishin 宝永地震) struck south-central Japan at 14:00 local time on 28 October 1707. It caused moderate to severe damage throughout southwestern Honshu, Shikoku and southeastern Kyūshū. The earthquake, and the resulting destructive tsunami, caused more than 5,000 casualties.
The Carolean Death March or the Catastrophe of Øyfjellet is the disastrous retreat by a Swedish-Carolean army under the command of Carl Gustaf Armfeldt across the Tydal mountain range in Trøndelag around the new year 1718–1719. About 3,000 men remained on the mountain, frozen to death. During the continued voyage down to Duved, where lodging had been arranged for the soldiers, another 700 men died. About 600 of the surviving 2,100 soldiers were crippled for life.
The 1721 Tabriz earthquake occurred on April 26, with an epicenter near the city of Tabriz, Iran. It leveled some three-quarters of the city, The total number of casualties caused by the earthquake is between 8,000 and 250,000; it was most likely approximately 80,000.
On 7 October 1737, a natural disaster struck the city of Calcutta (modern-day Kolkata) in India. For a long time this was believed in Europe to have been the result of an earthquake, but it is now believed to have been a tropical cyclone. Thomas Joshua Moore, the duties collector for the British East India Company in Calcutta, wrote in his official report that a storm and flood had destroyed nearly all the thatched buildings and killed 3,000 of the city's inhabitants. Other reports from merchant ships indicated an earthquake and tidal surge were to blame, destroying 20,000 ships in the harbor and killing 300,000 people. The population of Calcutta at the time was around 3,000–20,000.
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon earthquake, occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on the morning of Saturday, 1 November, Feast of All Saints, at around 09:40 local time. In combination with subsequent fires and a tsunami, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and adjoining areas. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.
The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 was a famine between 1769 and 1773 (1176 to 1180 in the Bengali calendar) that affected the lower Gangetic plain of India from Bihar to the Bengal region. The famine is estimated to have caused the deaths of about 10 million people.
The Chalisa famine of 1783–1784 in the Indian subcontinent followed unusual El Niño events that began in 1780 and caused droughts throughout the region. The famine affected many parts of North India, especially the Delhi territories, present-day Uttar Pradesh, Eastern Punjab, Rajputana, and Kashmir, then all ruled by different Indian rulers. It is thought that up to 11 million people may have died in the two famines.
The 1783 Calabrian earthquakes were a sequence of five strong earthquakes that hit the region of Calabria in southern Italy (then part of the Kingdom of Naples), the first two of which produced significant tsunamis. The epicenter of the first earthquake occurred in the plain of Palmi. The earthquakes occurred over a period of nearly two months, all with estimated magnitudes of 5.9 or greater. Estimates of the total number of deaths lie in the range 32,000 to 50,000.
The Doji bara famine (also, Skull famine) of 1791-92 in the Indian subcontinent was brought on by a major El Niño event lasting from 1789 CE to 1795 CE and producing prolonged droughts. The resulting famine, which was severe, caused widespread mortality in Hyderabad, Southern Maratha Kingdom, Deccan, Gujarat, and Marwar.
The 1792 Unzen earthquake and tsunami resulted from the volcanic activities of Mount Unzen (in the Shimabara Peninsula of Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan) on 21 May. This caused the collapse of the southern flank of the Mayuyama dome in front of Mount Unzen, resulting in a tremendous megatsunami, killing 15,000 people altogether.
The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was the most powerful in human recorded history, with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 7. Although its eruption reached a violent climax on 10 April 1815, increased steaming and small phreatic eruptions occurred during the next six months to three years. Tanguy pointed out that there may have been additional victims on Bali and East Java because of famine and disease. Their estimate was 11,000 Oppenheimer wrote that there were at least 71,000 deaths in total. Reid has estimated that 100,000 people on Sumbawa, Bali, and other locations died from the direct and indirect effects of the eruption.
The 1825 Miramichi fire, or Great Miramichi Fire, or Great Fire of Miramichi, as it came to be known, was a massive forest fire complex that devastated forests and communities throughout much of northern New Brunswick in October 1825. It ranks among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America. About 160 people died in and around Newcastle, including prisoners in the Newcastle Jail. Elsewhere, the totals were likely higher, given the number of lumbermen in the forests at the time (about 3000). To escape the blaze many residents took refuge with livestock and wildlife in the Miramichi River.
The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849. During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.
The Sicily tornadoes were two tornadoes that swept the Marsala countryside in western Sicily, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (now Italy) in early December (possibly late November) 1851. The total number of victims is unknown, but is assessed at over 500. It is one of the 10 deadliest tornadoes ever, achieving the highest death toll for a tornado event in continental Europe and the second in European history after the Valletta, Malta Tornado.
Third Pandemic is the designation of a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan province in China in 1855, fifth year of the Xianfeng Emperor of the Qing dynasty. This episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited continents, and ultimately more than 12 million people died in India and China, with about 10 million killed in India alone. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic was considered active until 1960, when worldwide casualties dropped to 200 per year.
The Doab famine of 1860–1861 was a famine in India that affected the Ganga-Yamuna Doab in the North-Western Provinces, large parts of Rohilkhand and Awadh, the Delhi and Hissar divisions of the Punjab, all in British India, then under Crown rule, and the eastern regions of the princely states of Rajputana. Up to 2 million people are thought to have perished in the famine.
The Orissa famine of 1866 affected the east coast of India from Madras northwards, an area covering 180,000 miles and containing a population of 47,500,000; the impact of the famine, however, was greatest in Orissa, now Odisha, which at that time was quite isolated from the rest of India. In Odisha, one third of the population died due to famine. In Odisha alone, at least 1 million people, a third of the population, died in 1866, and overall in the region approximately 4 to 5 million died in the two-year period
The 1868 Arica earthquake occurred on 13 August 1868, near Arica, then part of Peru, now part of Chile, at 21:30 UTC. It had an estimated magnitude between 8.5 and 9.0. A tsunami (or multiple tsunamis) in the Pacific Ocean was produced by the earthquake, which was recorded in Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The earthquake caused almost complete destruction in the southern part of Peru, including Arica, Tacna, Moquegua, Mollendo, Ilo, Iquique, Torata and Arequipa, resulting in an estimated 25,000 casualties.
The 1868 Ecuador earthquakes occurred at 19:30 UTC on August 15 and 06:30 UTC on 16 August 1868. They caused severe damage in the northeastern part of Ecuador and in southwestern Colombia. They had an estimated magnitude of 6.3 and 6.7 and together caused up to 70,000 casualties.
The Rajputana famine of 1869 (1868-1870) affected an area of 296,000 square miles (770,000 km2) and a population of 44,500,000, primarily in the princely states of Rajputana, India, and the British territory of Ajmer. The death toll from this famine is estimated to be in the range of 1.5 million people.
The Great Persian famine of 1870–1872 was a period of mass starvation and disease in Persia between 1870 and 1872. There is no agreement among scholars as to the total number of deaths during the famine, although it is believed that it resulted a considerable decline in Iran's population. The death toll from this famine is estimated to be in the range of 1.5 million people.
The Peshtigo fire was a very large forest fire that took place on October 8, 1871, in northeastern Wisconsin, including much of the Door Peninsula, and adjacent parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest community in the affected area was Peshtigo, Wisconsin. With the estimated deaths of around 1,500 people, and possibly as many as 2,500.
The Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876 (29 October – 1 November 1876) was one of the deadliest cyclones in history. It hit the coast of Backerganj (near Meghna estuary) in present-day Barisal, Bangladesh, killing about 200,000 people, half of whom were drowned by the storm surge, while the rest died from the subsequent famine.
The Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–1879 occurred in the late Qing dynasty in China. It is usually referred to as Dīngwù Qíhuāng (丁戊奇荒) in China. A drought began in northern China in 1875, leading to crop failures the following years. The provinces of Shanxi, Zhili (now mostly part of Hebei), Henan, Shandong and the northern parts of Jiangsu were affected. Between 9 and 13 million people died in the famine, out of 108 million in the five affected provinces.
The Great Famine of 1876–1878 (also the Southern India famine of 1876–1878 or the Madras famine of 1877) was a famine in India under Crown rule. It began in 1876 after an intense drought resulting in crop failure in the Deccan Plateau. The death toll from this famine is estimated to be in the range of 5.5 million people.
The Thumb Fire took place on September 5, 1881, in the Thumb area of Michigan in the United States. The fire, which burned over a million acres (4,000 km²) in less than a day, was the consequence of drought, hurricane-force winds, heat, the after-effects of the Port Huron Fire of 1871, and the ecological damage wrought by the era's logging techniques. The blaze, also called the Great Thumb Fire, the Great Forest Fire of 1881 and the Huron Fire, killed 282 people in Sanilac, Lapeer, Tuscola and Huron counties. The damage estimate was $2,347,000 in 1881.
The 1881 Haiphong typhoon was a typhoon that struck Haiphong, in Dai Nam (now Vietnam), and the northern part of the Captaincy General of the Philippines (now the Philippines) on October 8, 1881. About 300000 people were killed in and around Haiphong by the typhoon alone (casualties likely went up even in the storm's passing due to disease and starvation)
The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (Indonesian: Krakatau ) in the Sunda Strait began on the afternoon of Sunday, 26 August 1883, and peaked on the late morning of Monday, 27 August 1883, when over 70% of the island of Krakatoa and its surrounding archipelago were destroyed as it collapsed into a caldera. At least 36,417 deaths are attributed to the eruption and the tsunamis it created.
The 1887 Yellow River flood was a devastating flood on the Yellow River (Huang He) in China. This river is prone to flooding due to the elevated nature of the river, running between dikes above the broad plains surrounding it. The flood, which began in September 1887, killed about 900,000 people. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.
The Schoolhouse Blizzard, also known as the Schoolchildren's Blizzard, School Children's Blizzard, or Children's Blizzard, hit the U.S. plains states on January 12, 1888. The blizzard came unexpectedly on a relatively warm day, and many people were caught unaware, including children in one-room schoolhouses. The death toll from this blizzard is estimated to be in the range of 235 people.
The Great Blizzard of 1888, Great Blizzard of '88, or the Great White Hurricane (March 11–14, 1888) was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in American history. The storm paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The death toll from this blizzard is estimated to be 400 people.
The Great Hinckley Fire was a conflagration in the pine forests of the U.S. state of Minnesota in September 1894, which burned an area of at least 200,000 acres (810 km2; 310 sq mi) (perhaps more than 250,000 acres [1,000 km2; 390 sq mi]), including the town of Hinckley. The official death count was 418; the actual number of fatalities was likely higher.
The 1896 Sanriku earthquake was one of the most destructive seismic events in Japanese history. The 8.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 19:32 (local time) on June 15, 1896, approximately 166 kilometres (103 mi) off the coast of Iwate Prefecture, Honshu. It resulted in two tsunamis which destroyed about 9,000 homes and caused at least 22,000 deaths.
1900 to eradication. Declared eradicated May 8, 1980. 300 million smallpox deaths between 1900 and eradication would mean that, out of 4,713,503,215 worldwide deaths between 1900 and 1995, 6.36% were from smallpox. Applied to the estimated total of ca. 95 billion deaths between 50000 BC and 1900, this would mean that over 6 billion deaths in this period were from smallpox.
Mount Pelée (Montagne Pelée, meaning "bald mountain" or "peeled mountain") is a volcano at the northern end of Martinique, an island and French overseas department in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. Its volcanic cone is composed of stratified layers of hardened ash and solidified lava. The stratovolcano's eruption in 1902 destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing 28,000 people in the space of a few minutes, in the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century.
The Yacolt Burn is the collective name for dozens of fires in Washington state and Oregon occurring between September 8 and September 12, 1902, causing 38 deaths in the Lewis River area, at least nine deaths by fire in Wind River and 18 deaths in the Columbia River Gorge.
The first eruption of Santa María in recorded history occurred in October 1902. The eruption began on 24 October, and the largest explosions occurred over the following two days, ejecting an estimated 8 cubic kilometres (1.9 cu mi) of magma. Estimates are that 6,000 people died as a result of the eruption.
The Tunguska event was a large explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai), Russia, on the morning of 30 June 1908 (NS). The explosion over the sparsely populated Eastern Siberian Taiga flattened 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) of forest, and may have caused up to three human casualties.
The 1908 Messina earthquake (also known as the 1908 Messina and Reggio earthquake) occurred on 28 December in Sicily and Calabria, southern Italy with a moment magnitude of 7.1 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). The cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria were almost completely destroyed and between 75,000 and 82,000 lives were lost.
The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the Big Blowup, the Big Burn, or the Devil's Broom fire) was a wildfire in the western United States that burned three million acres (4,700 sq mi; 12,100 km2) in North Idaho and Western Montana, with extensions into Eastern Washington and Southeast British Columbia, in the summer of 1910. It killed 87 people, mostly firefighters.
The 1901 eastern U.S. heat wave was the most severe and deadly heat wave in the United States prior to the 1930s Dust Bowl. In the most extensive study of American heat waves, it was estimated that the 1901 Eastern heat wave had claimed the lives of 9,500 people, which makes it easily the most destructive disaster of its type in US history.
The Great Porcupine Fire of 1911 was one of the most devastating forest fires ever to strike the Ontario northland. Spring had come early that year, followed by an abnormally hot dry spell that lasted into the summer. This created ideal conditions for the ensuing disaster, in which a number of smaller fires converged. Official counts list 73 dead, though it is estimated the actual toll could have been as high as 200.
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the "Big Blow" the "Freshwater Fury," or the "White Hurricane," was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and Ontario, Canada from November 7 through November 10, 1913. The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster to hit the lakes in recorded history, the Great Lakes Storm killed more than 250 people, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others.