Almost 100,000 people perish in natural disasters every year, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. Violent humans have been a fact of human life since the beginning of mankind, with death counts lost to history. Here let’s take a look at the disasters that caused most deaths:
The 1931 Yangtze River floods
During the summer of 1931, China was hit with a heavy rainstorm that led to extreme flooding and killed millions. The Yangtze River overflowed its banks during this time as snowmelt combined with excessive rainfall in July alone, which reached 24 inches (600 millimeters).
Large waterways, including The Yellow River, also reached high levels. According to The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Yangzi River Flood,” the flood swamped almost 70,000 square miles, which turns it into a giant lake or ocean with an estimated 2-3 million dead as a result.
The 1887 Yellow River flood
The Yellow River in China was precariously situated far above most of the land around it, thanks to a series of dikes made to contain the river as it flowed through central China’s farmland. Over time, these dikes had silted up and caused water levels to rise higher than they would naturally be.
Heavy rains flooded the Mississippi River in September of 1887, submerging 5 million square miles (12.9 km), and an estimated 900-2 million people lost their lives as a result.
The 1556 Shaanxi earthquake
In history, The deadliest earthquake in history hit China’s Shaanxi province on Jan. 23, 1556, and reduced the country’s 621-square-mile (1,000 square kilometers) swath to rubble. The temblor is known as the “Jiajing Great Earthquake,” after the emperor whose reign it occurred during which an estimated 830,000 people died due to cave homes collapsing from its magnitude at around magnitude 8.
The 1970 Bhola cyclone
The Bangladesh that we know today was devastated by a cyclone in the early 70s. The storm made landfall on Nov 12th and 13th, 1970, carrying with it winds of 130 mph (205 kph). This is equivalent to what one would expect from a category four major hurricane. Ahead of its landfall, 35-foot, high waves washed over low-lying islands bordering the Bay of Bengal, causing widespread flooding, which has wreaked havoc on the country ever since then.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake
In 2010, Haiti suffered an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale, and it has been one of the poor countries in the Western Hemisphere since then due to the lack of history for large earthquakes, which left them vulnerable to damages and loss from life. As many as three million people got affected by this quake; however, death toll estimates varied greatly- initially Haitian government estimated 230,000 fatalities but later changed that figure to 316 thousand while USGS claimed only 100 thousand deaths during this time period.