10 Worst Natural Disasters in History

worst natural disasters

This post may contain affiliate links for products I recommend. If you click a link and buy something I may receive some compensation. This does not change the price you would pay.

David May 13, 2016 Natural Disasters

Since the beginning of time, humans have had to deal with natural disasters. From hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, to fires, tsunamis, and earthquakes, Mother Nature has many ways to kill you. The problem with most natural disasters is that they’re unpredictable. One minute you’re going about your day, and the next, you and your family are running for cover. So, what are the worst natural disasters in history? We’ll talk about the 10 deadliest ones in this article.

#10: Haiti Earthquake (2010)

As one of the worst natural disasters in history, the Haiti earthquake of 2010 resulted in a staggering 200,000 deaths. On top of that, millions of people were left homeless, and in desperate need of emergency assistance. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.0, which is very powerful. Not only did the initial quake do a ton of damage, but the people of Haiti also had to deal with aftershocks. Just to give you a taste of what it was like, here’s a video of some news coverage:

#9: Hurricane Katrina (2005)

While it’s not the deadliest natural disaster in history, Hurricane Katrina did a lot of damage. In fact, there was approximately $80 billion dollars in damage caused by this hurricane. The death toll was about 2,000 people. It wasn’t just the heavy winds and flooding that killed people- it was the lack of preparedness by the people who lived there. After the hurricane, people were left without food, water, and shelter (hence why it always pays to be prepared!). While the following video doesn’t do justice to what these people went through, I hope it gives you an idea of what Hurricane Katrina was like:

#8: Hurricane Andrew (1992)

Hurricane Andrew was the worst natural disaster in the history of South Florida. Having lived through it, I can tell you that it was terrifying. The hurricane caused millions of dollars in damage, and worse, left millions of people homeless for months. Survivors of Hurricane Andrew were forced to survive without electricity. Entire communities were flattened as people were forced to fight over food rations and clean water. It was a terrible experience that I hope nobody else ever has to go through. Here’s a good documentary about one of the worst natural disasters in United States history:

#7: Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami (2011)

In 2011, Japan was struck with a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake, making it one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the country. About 15,000 people were killed throughout the course of the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. Less than an hour after the initial earthquake, the first of many tsunamis hit the coastline of Japan. This meant that the survivors of the initial tremors were now faced with raging ocean waters. Considering the magnitude of both the earthquake and the tsunamis, it’s surprising more people didn’t die. Here’s one person’s video of the incident:

#6: Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami (2004)

In 2004, an earthquake created a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Experts estimate that the tsunami packed the same amount of energy as 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. Over 250,000 people died, making it the one of the worst natural disasters in history. On top of that, millions of people across 11 countries were left homeless. The tsunamis were estimated to have sped across the Indian Ocean at several hundred miles per hour- or the same speed as a jet airliner! Here’s a good – if terribly sad documentary on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami:

#5: Tangshan Earthquake (1976)

On July 28th, 1976, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Tangshan at 3:42 A.M., catching everyone unprepared. Not only did many people die, but the earthquake also caused tons of damage. The casualty number was no joke- an estimated 200,000 people died, making it the deadliest natural disaster of its time for China. Also, an estimated 90% of buildings were destroyed. While it’s been more than 30 years since that dreadful day, remembering the past is an excellent way to prepare for the future. Finding descent footage of the earthquake was hard. Here’s the best I could find:

#4: Cyclone Nargis (2008)

Of all the worst natural disasters in history, this is probably one of the lesser-known ones. On May 2nd, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made its way into Myanmar, where it spent the next two days crossing the country. Throughout that time, an estimated 85,000 people were killed. Another 53,000 or so went missing. Overall, the damage caused by this cyclone was estimated to be about $10 billion dollars. Here’s a CNN clip from the 2008 incident:

#3: China Earthquake (2008)

In May of 2008, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck southwestern China. The death toll was about 90,000, with another 375,000 people injured. Among the dead were 5,300 children, which makes the incident even more heartbreaking. Entire villages were destroyed in the process, as were several towns in the mountains. Schools also collapsed. About 200 relief workers also died in mudslides in the area. Based on the amount of destruction caused by this earthquake, it qualifies as one of the worst natural disasters in history. Here’s a short clip of the aftermath:

#2: Iran Earthquake (2003)

On December 26th, 2003, an earthquake struck southeastern Iran at about 5:27 A.M. It measured at 6.6 on the Richter scale, and ended up killing about 26,000 people. On top of that, over 300,000 people were negatively affected by this natural disaster. A whopping 85% of buildings were destroyed in the process, leaving more than 75,000 people without adequate shelter in the cold weather. The Iran earthquake of 2003 definitely qualifies as one of the worst natural disasters of the 21st century. Here’s a short documentary about the earthquake:

#1: Pakistan Earthquake (2005)

On October 8th, 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan, killing more than 80,000 people. An estimated 4 million survivors were left without homes, making this one of the worst natural disasters the region has ever faced. The earthquake struck at 8:50 A.M., catching everyone off guard. Landslides wiped out a large percentage of the region’s roads, while countless buildings were also destroyed in the process. Here’s a great documentary by National Geographic on the incident:

Worst Natural Disasters in History – Bottom Line

History tends to repeat itself. That’s why you always need to be prepared. You might get lucky and never find yourself in the midst of a natural disaster. Then again, you may end up being in the dead center of it all. For this reason, you should learn about how to survive different natural disasters. I hope that learning about the worst natural disasters in history has made you more motivated to get prepared.