For many centuries, violent disasters have devastated the human race, claiming many lives and wreaking havoc all over the world. Whether they were man-made, natural, or just plainly an act-of-god, disasters have become an inevitable part of our lives here on Earth. Although we have lost many lives and spent trillions of dollars in repairs, these disasters have also taught us how to cope and hopefully overcome these unpredictable events.
So here we’ve compiled a list of the 5 Deadliest Disasters to ever take place in History!
5. 1202 Syria Earthquake
On May 20th, 1202 (or 598 AH), a 7.6 magnitude earthquake rocked the southwestern part of Syria and heavily damaged parts of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Due to the time period in which this earthquake took place, it is nearly impossible to say what the exact amount of deaths were but have often been cited at being around 1.1 million. There have also been reports stating the figure of 1.1 million casualties comes as the result of deaths related to starvation and other epidemics such as the Nile flood, which also occurred in the same year.
4. The Yangtze River Floods of 1931
In 1931, the devastating floods of the Yangtze River killed as many as 2 million people and affected lives of over 52 million. The floods has often referred to as the ‘Yangzi, Yellow, and Huai River floods’ in China due to all three rivers severely flooding as a result of torrential rainfall. Although the Yangtze river expects at least 2 cyclones a year, the cause of this disastrous flooding however, has been said to be due to long-term interaction between locals and the river basins. Because of this, many rice crops were destroyed, creating famine and leading to an even greater number of deaths. To put into perspective the amount of devastation that occurred, the Yangtze River Flood covered an area equivalent in size to England and half of Scotland!
3. Great Bengal Famine of 1770
Between the years 1769 to 1773, an estimated 10 million people died due to famine in Bengal. The famine has been said to have occurred due to failed policy by the British East India Company and a monsoonal delay in 1769 that caused a drought. One of the failed policies from the British East India Company was that they were forcing local farmers to grow tons of opium so they can sell it China. Since the company also had taxation rights, it kept raising the taxes until it was nearly doubled in the first few years alone. Even when the famine reached it’s height in April 1770, the company announced it tax going going to increase another 10% the following year. As a result, food became scarce for people in Bengal which lead to widespread death.
2. The Black Plague
In the fourteenth century, Europe suffered from one of the worst catastrophes to ever strike the human race, The Black Plague. The Black Plague claimed an estimated 75 million lives between the years of 1346 to 1353. It arrived in Europe by merchant ships in the form of fleas living on black rats that ended up wiping out nearly 30-60% of countries’ population. There are reports that the plague can be traced back to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in the 1320’s from where travelers and traders contracted it and it spread like wildfire. Although Poland was not technically ‘spared’, it did manage to go less affected than the rest of Europe. Mainly because King Casimir the Great brilliantly quarantined the Polish borders. By imposing isolation, the king managed to soften the blow of the plague on Poland.
1. The 1918 Flu Pandemic
In 1918 and 1919, influenza infected nearly 500 million people or nearly one-fifth of the worlds population. The pandemic caused an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide and nearly 675,000 deaths here in the U.S. Unfortunately, being that this was in 1918, we did not have access to vaccines or drugs to avoid the spread. Interestingly, it was noted that the flu appeared in two phases. In late spring 1918, during the first phase, patients would suddenly get sick for three days however would soon recover and only a few deaths were reported. However, when the flu reappeared that fall during the second phase, it proved to be deadly and vicious. The patients began to die within hours of first seeing symptoms. Sadly, the groups hardest hit by the flu were children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Source(s): Disasterium, Wikia, History, World Library, Springer Link, Archives.gov, Disaster History, Britannica, Disaster History