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NEW BOOK by piero scaruffi: Synthesis: Poems and Meditations

The worst Natural Disasters ever

compiled by piero scaruffi | History pages
TM, ®, Copyright © 2001-2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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(Several governments are blamed for some of these natural disasters, e.g. Stalin for the Ukrainian famine of 1921, Mao for the Chinese famine of 1969 and Britain for the Irish famine of 1845. In this page i simply list the figures. It is an endless argument to decide if people would have died anyway).
  • Athens, 430 B.C.: Typhus epidemic
  • Pompei, 79: Volcanic eruption
  • Antioch, Syria, 526: Earthquake (250,000 dead)
  • Costantinopole, 542: Bubonic plague
  • Beirut, Lebanon, 551: earthquake and tsunami (tens of thousands dead)
  • Japan, 1181: famine (100,000 dead)
  • Holland, 1228: sea flood (100,000 dead)
  • Chihli, China, 1290: Earthquake (100,000 dead)
  • Europe and Asia, 1346-52: Bubonic plague or "black death" (one third of the European population dead plus millions in Asia and North Africa for a total of 25 million)
  • Brazil, 1555: smallpox (? dead)
  • Mexico, 1555-76: smallpox (more than one million dead)
  • Shensi, China, 1556: earthquake (800,000 dead)
  • Spain, 1596: plague (500,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1601-03: famine (one million dead)
  • London, Britain, 1603: plague (20% of the population dead)
  • Northern Italy, 1629-31: plague (120,000 dead)
  • Napoli, Italy, 1631: Mt Vesuvius erupts (3,000 dead)
  • Havana, 1648: Yellow fever epidemic
  • Sevilla, Spain, 1649: Plague (80,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1654-56: plague (200,000 dead)
  • Napoli, Italy, 1656: plague (150,000 dead)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1663: plague (50,000 dead)
  • London, Britain, 1665: plague (150,000 dead)
  • Turkey, 1668: earthquake (8,000 dead)
  • Bengal, India, 1669: famine (3,000,000 dead)
  • Korea, 1671: famine (? dead)
  • Vienna, Austria, 1679: plague (76,000 dead)
  • Iceland, 1707: smallpox (18,000 dead)
  • Prussia, Sweden and Finland, 1709-11: plague (300,000 dead)
  • Marseilles, France, 1720: Plague (half the population dead)
  • Hokkaido, Japan, 1730: Earthquake (140,000 dead)
  • Lisbon, 1755: earthquake and tsunami (30,000 dead)
  • Calcutta, 1737: Earthquake (300,000 dead)
  • Bengal, India, 1769: famine (10 million dead)
  • Russia, 1770-71: plague (200,000 dead)
  • India, 1775: Tsunami (60,000 dead)
  • Northamerica, 1775-82: Smallpox (130,000 dead)
  • Istanbul, Turkey, 1778: plague (30% of the population dead)
  • Iran, 1780: earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • Caribbeans, 1780: Hurricane (22,000 dead)
  • Korea, 1784: Famine (500,000 dead)
  • Philadelphia, 1793: Yellow fever epidemic (5,000 dead)
  • Prussia, 1813-14: typhoid (200,000 dead)
  • Istanbul, Turkey, 1813: plague (100,000 dead)
  • Sumbawa, Indonesia, 1815: Mt Tambora erupts (88,000 dead)
  • India, 1816-26: cholera (200,000 dead)
  • Indonesia, 1816-26: cholera (100,000 dead)
  • Japan, 1826: Tsunami (27,000 dead)
  • Hungary, 1829-31: cholera (100,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1830-31: cholera (500,000 dead)
  • Egypt, 1831: cholera (150,000 dead)
  • Britain, 1831-32: cholera (55,000 dead)
  • Concepcion, Chile, 1835: earthquake (5,000 dead)
  • Ireland, 1845: famine (one million dead)
  • Britain, 1846-47: cholera (52,000)
  • Russia, 1847-51: cholera (one million dead)
  • England, 1849: cholera (20,000 dead)
  • Mexico, 1849: cholera (200,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1852-1860: cholera (one million dead)
  • London, 1853-4: cholera (10,738 dead)
  • Spain, 1854-5: cholera (236,000)
  • Mapoli, Italy, 1857: earthquake (11,000 dead)
  • Japan, 1858-60: cholera (150,000 dead)
  • India, 1864: Cyclone (70,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1866: cholera (90,000 dead)
  • Austria, 1866: cholera (165,000 dead)
  • Italy, 1867: cholera (113,000 dead)
  • Algeria, 1867: cholera (80,000 dead)
  • Russia, Prussia, Austria, Hungary, 1867: cholera (225,000 dead)
  • Iran, 1869-72: Famine (2 million dead)
  • France and Germany, 1870-71: Smallpox (500,000 dead)
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1873: cholera (230,000 dead)
  • India, 1875-78: Famine (10 million dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1876: Cyclone (200,000 dead)
  • China, 1876-78: Famine (9 million dead)
  • Brazil, 1877: Famine (300,000 dead)
  • China, 1881: Typhoon (300,000 dead)
  • Mount Krakatoa, Indonesia, august 1883: volcano eruption and tsunami (40,000+ dead)
  • Huayan Kou, China, 1887: Yang-tse Kiang flooding (one million dead)
  • Ethiopia and Sudan 1887: Famine
  • Mino-owari, Japan, 1891: earthquake (7,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1891: famine (500,000 dead)
  • Russia, 1892: cholera (267,890 dead)
  • Germany, 1892: cholera (140,000 dead)
  • Yunnan, China, 1894: plague (?)
  • Sanriku, Japan, 1896: Tsunami (27,000 dead)
  • India, 1897: earthquake (1,500 dead)
  • Shantung, China, 1898: famine (? dead)
  • Galveston, 1900: Hurricane (8,000 dead)
  • Martinique, 1902: Volcano (38,000 dead)
  • Philippines, 1902-1904: cholera (200,000 dead)
  • San Francisco, 1906: earthquake and fire (3,000 dead)
  • Colombia, 1906: earthquake (1,000 dead)
  • Valparaiso, Chile, 1906: earthquake (20,000 dead)
  • China, 1907: famine (20 million dead)
  • Messina, Italy, 1908: 7.5 earthquake (70,000 dead)
  • Ukraine, 1910: cholera (110,000 dead)
  • Mexico City, 1911: earthquake
  • Syria, 1915-18: famine (500,000 dead)
  • Guatemala, 1917: earthquake (600 dead)
  • Worldwide, 1918: Influenza pandemic (25-100 million dead)
  • Gansu, China, 1920: 8.6 earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • Hebei, China, 1920-21: famine (500,000 dead)
  • Ukraine, 1921: Famine (5 million dead)
  • Lower Volga, Russia, 1921-22: Famine (5 million dead)
  • Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan, 1923: 8.3 earthquake (143,000 dead)
  • Nanshan, China, 1927: 8.3 earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • China, 1928-30: Famine (3 million dead)
  • Florida, USA, 1928: Hurricane (1800 dead)
  • China, 1931: Flooding (3.7 million dead)
  • Ukraine and Russia, 1932: Famine (5 million dead)
  • Gansu, China, 1932: 7.6 earthquake (70,000 dead)
  • Sanriku, Japan, 1933: 8.4 earthquake (3,000 dead)
  • Bihar, India, 1934: 8.1 earthquake (10,700 dead)
  • Quetta, Pakistan, 1935: 7.5 earthquake (60,000 dead)
  • China, 1936: Famine (5 million dead)
  • New York, USA, 1938: Rains (600 dead)
  • Erzincan, Turkey, 1939: 7.8 earthquake (33,000 dead)
  • Santiago, Chile, 1939: earthquake (30,000 dead)
  • Henan, China, 1941-43: famine (3 million dead)
  • Bengal, India, 1943: famine (3.5 million dead)
  • Tonankai, Japan, 1944: 8.1 earthquake (1,200 dead)
  • Nankaido, Japan, 1946: earthquake (1,330 dead)
  • Ukraine and Russia, Soviet Union, 1946-47: famine (one million dead)
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 1948: earthquake (100,000 dead)
  • Assam, India, 1950: earthquake (1,526 dead)
  • Holland, 1953: Sea flood (1,794 dead)
  • Iran, 1953: Rain flood (10,000 dead)
  • Louisiana, USA, 1957: Hurricane (400 dead)
  • Worldwide, 1957: Influenza pandemic (about four million dead)
  • Japan, 1958: Typhoon (5,000 dead)
  • Ethiopia, 1958: Famine (100,000 dead)
  • China, 1958-61: Famine (38 million dead)
  • Morocco, 1960: earthquake (10,000 dead)
  • Valdavia, Chile, 1960: 9.5 earthquake (most powerful of the century) and tsunami (5,700 dead)
  • Mt Huascaran, Peru, 1962: Volcano eruption (3,000)
  • Skopje, Yugoslavia, 1963: earthquake (1,066)
  • India, 1965: Famine (1.5 million dead)
  • Worldwide, 1968: Influenza pandemic (about 750,000 dead)
  • China, 1969: Famine (20 million dead)
  • North Peru, 1970: 7.8 earthquake (66,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1970: Sea flood (200-500,000 dead)
  • Vietnam, 1971: Red River flood (100,000 dead)
  • Managua, Nicaragua, 1972: earthquake flood (10,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1974: floods (28,000 dead)
  • Honduras, 1974: hurricane (5,000 dead)
  • Ethiopia, 1974: famine (200,000 dead)
  • Haicheng, China, 1975: 7.0 earthquake (10,000 dead)
  • Tangshan, China, 1976: 8.0 earthquake (750,000 dead)
  • Guatemala, 1976: earthquake (23,000 dead)
  • Cambdia, 1976-78: famine (700,000 dead)
  • Andhra Pradesh, India, 1977: cyclone (10,000 dead)
  • Caribbeans, 1979: Hurricane (2,000 dead)
  • Karamoja, Uganda, 1980: Famine
  • Mexico, 1982: volcanic eruption (1,800 dead)
  • Yemen, 1982: earthquake (3,000 dead)
  • Bhopal, India, 1984: Chemical pollution (3,800 dead)
  • Mozambique, 1984: famine (100,000 dead)
  • Ethiopia, 1984: Famine (900,000 dead)
  • Ciudad de Mexico, 1985: 8.1 earthquake (9,500 dead)
  • Colombia, 1985: Volcano (25,000 dead)
  • Armenia, 1988: earthquake (55,000 dead)
  • Colombia, 1985: eruption of Nevado del Ruiz (23,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1988: Monsoon flood (1,300 dead)
  • Gilan and Zanjan, Iran, 1990: 7.7 earthquake (35,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1991: tsunami (138,000 dead)
  • Latur, India, 1993: earthquake (22,000 dead)
  • Kobe, Japan, 1995: earthquake (5,500 dead)
  • Niger, 1995: meningitis epidemic (3,000 dead)
  • Chicago, USA, 1995: heatwave (739 dead)
  • North Korea, 1995-98: Floods and famine (3.5 million dead)
  • West Africa, 1996: meningitis outbreak (25,000 dead)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 1996: earthquake (??,000 dead)
  • Papua New Guinea, 1998: Tsunami (2,200 dead)
  • Yangtze Kiang, China, 1998: flooding (3,600 dead)
  • Central America, 1998: Hurricane Mitch and floods (12,000 dead)
  • Afghanistan, 1998: Earthquakes (10,000 dead)
  • Colombia, 1999: earthquake (1,185 dead)
  • Izmit, Turkey, 1999: earthquake (17,000 dead)
  • Taiwan, 1999: 7.6 earthquake (2,400 dead)
  • Orissa, India, 1999: Cyclone (7,600 dead)
  • Venezuela, 1999: Floods (20,000 dead)
  • Vietnam, 1999: Floods (750 dead)
  • Gujarat, India, 2001: earthquake (20,000 dead)
  • El Salvador, 2001: earthquake (850 dead)
  • Afghanistan, 2002: earthquake (2,500 dead)
  • Algeria, 2003: earthquake (2,266 dead)
  • Asia, 2003: SARS (744 dead, mostly in China)
  • Andhra Pradesh, India, 2003: Heat wave (1,300 dead)
  • France, Spain and Italy, 2003: Heat wave (50,000 dead)
  • Bam, Iran, 2003: earthquake (26,300 dead)
  • Al-Hoceima, Morocco, 2004: earthquake (571 dead)
  • Haiti and Dominican Republic, 2004: rains (2,400 dead)
  • Philippines, 2004: typhoon (1,000 dead)
  • China, 2004: floods (1,300 dead)
  • Southeast Asia, 2004: tsunamis caused by 9.0 earthquake (245,000 dead of which111,000 dead in Indonesia, 31,000 in Sri Lanka, 10,700 in India, 5,400 in Thailand, 68 in Malaysia, 82 in the Maldives, 300 in Myanmar and 150 in Somalia, including 1,500 Scandinavian tourists, and dozens of Germans, Italians, Dutch, etc)
  • Zarand, Iran, 2005: earthquake (500 dead)
  • Nias, Indonesia, 2005: 8.7 earthquake (1000 dead)
  • Mumbai, India, 2005: monsoon (1,000 dead)
  • China, 2005: floods (567 dead)
  • Louisiana and Mississippi, USA, 2005: "Katrina" hurricane (1,836 dead)
  • Niger, 2005: famine (10,000? dead)
  • Kashmir, 2005: earthquake (80,500 dead, of which 79,000 in Pakistan and 1,350 in India)
  • Central America, 2005: floods (1,400 dead, of which 1,200 in Guatemala)
  • Philippines, 2006: mudslides (1,800)
  • Java, 2006: earthquake (4,300)
  • Java, 2006: tsunami (520)
  • India and Pakistan, aug 2006: floods (300)
  • Southern Ethiopia, aug 2006: floods (800)
  • Fujian, China, aug 2006: typhoon (260)
  • Indian subcontinent, june 2007: storms (228 in Pakistan, 500 in India, 600 in Bangladesh, unknown in Afghanistan)
  • Hungary, july 2007: heatwave (500)
  • North Korea, august 2007: floods (1,000?)
  • Peru, august 2007: earthquake (540)
  • Bangladesh, november 2007: cyclone (4,000)
  • Afghanistan, february 2008: cold wave (926)
  • Myanmar/Burma, may 2008: cyclone (135,000)
  • Zimbabwe, 2008: cholera (4,000)
  • China, may 2008: earthquake (70,000)
  • Haiti, august 2008: hurricane (500)
  • India and Bangladesh, september 2008: floods (635)
  • Abruzzo, Italy, april 2009: earthquake (300)
  • Taiwan, august 2009: typhoon (700)
  • Sumatra, Indonesia, september 2009: earthquake (1200)
  • Philippines, october 2009: storms (189)
  • USA, 2009: swine flue (10,000)
  • Haiti, january 2010: earthquake (230,000)
  • Conception, Chile, february 2010: 8.8 earthquake (452)
  • Qinghai, China, april 2010: earthquake (760)
  • Russia, july 2010: drownings following heat wave (1200)
  • Pakistan, july 2010: flooding (1,313)
  • Zhouqu, Gansu, China, august 2010: landslide (700)
  • Indonesia, october 2010: tsunami (500)
  • Somalia, 2010-12: famine (260,000)
  • South-east Brazil, january 2011: flooding and mudslides (500)
  • Japan, march 2011: earthquake and tsunami (18,800)
  • Thailand, october 2011: floods (350)
  • Turkey, october 2011: earthquake (430)
  • Thailand, october 2011: flooding (500)
  • Philippines, december 2011: storms (1400)
  • Philippines, november 2012: storms (600)
  • Philippines, november 2013: typhoon (4000)
  • Afghanistan, may 2014: landslides (2500)
  • Yunnan, China, august 2014: earthquake (600)
  • Nepal, april 2015: earthquake (8000)
  • India and Pakistan, june 2015: heat wave (4000)
  • Ecuador, april 2016: earthquake (659)

Distasters related to the Energy industry:
  1. Hydro (dams)
    • Johnstown, USA (1889): 2,200 dead
    • Santa Paula, USA (1928): 470 dead
    • Frejus, France (1959): 412 dead
    • Vayont, Itajy (1963): 1909 dead
    • Shimantan, China (1975): 85,000 dead
  2. Coal (mines)
    • USA: Thousands died in coal mines in the early 20th century
    • China, 1950-today: between 4,000 and 6,000 miners die every year in coal-mine accidents
    • The indirect deaths caused by coal pollution may be in the millions
  3. Chemical. Bhopal, India (1984): 14,000 dead.
  4. The indirect deaths caused by chemical pollution around the world may be in the millions
  5. Nuclear. Chernobyl, Russia (1986): 30 dead in 1986, 19 dead in following years from radiation, 15 children who died of thyroid cancer by 2002, several killed building the sarcophagus in later years (the Ukrainian government claims the death of 93,000 people, but it never provided any evidence, and Russia accuses it of using those numbers to claim compensation - antinuclear activists use the numbers of the Ukrainian government to claim nuclear power is dangerous - Greenpeace even counts all deaths from all diseases in that region till the end of time as caused by the explosion, thus inflating the number to 200,000 - a United Nations report of 2006 estimated 9,000 direct and indirect victims of the explosion over 20 years but using a logic that would yield colossal numbers of deaths if applied to a coal mine and probably millions of deaths if applied to the pollution caused by cars).
  6. Nuclear. Fukushima, Japan (2011): still under investigation. No direct deaths but unknown indirect deaths. There has not been any other major nuclear-power disaster. The second worst is Mihama, Japan (2004) when non-radioactive steam leaked from a nuclear power plant killing four workers, followed by Tokaimura, Japan (1999), when radioactive gas killed two workers. Neither the Japanese government nor environmental organizations have ever found evidence of additional indirect deaths. These numbers are very small compared with the numbers of people killed in hydro, coal and chemical accidents.

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