Natural Disasters

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A list of historical natural disasters.

  • Toba, 73,000 B.C.: massive volcanic eruption.
  • Thera: 1650-1450 B.C.: eruption; ends Minoan civilisation.
  • Athens, 430 B.C.: Typhus epidemic
  • Pompei, 79 B.C.: Volcanic eruption
  • Antioch, Syria, 526: Earthquake (250,000 dead).
  • Climatic disaster: 535: might have been triggered by an Indonesian volcanic eruption; grassland failures spurred migrations of Avars and others; plagues, conjectured collapse of Late Antiquity.
  • Constantinople, 542: Bubonic plague.
  • Beirut, Lebanon, 551: earthquake and tsunami (tens of thousands dead)
  • Corinth, 891: earthquake (45,000 dead)
  • Japan, 1181: famine (100,000 dead)
  • Holland, 1228: sea flood (100,000 dead)
  • Little Ice Age: 1250: Atlantic pack ice starts to grow.
  • Chihli, China, 1290: Earthquake (100,000 dead)
  • Little Ice Age: 1300: warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe.
  • Little Ice Age: 1310-1330 northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers.
  • Little Ice Age: 1315-1317: Great Famine: sequence of famines in north western Europe; 10%-25% of the population of many cities and towns die.
  • 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).
  • Little Ice Age: 1350: theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion.
  • Grote Mandrenke: 1362: Storm tide in north western Europe claims (25,000+ victims).
  • Shensi, China, 1556: earthquake (800,000 dead)
  • Little Ice Age: I607: Thames freezes in London for the first time.
  • Napoli, Italy, 1631: Mt Vesuvius erupts (3,000 dead)
  • Havana, 1648: Yellow fever epidemic
  • Sevilla, Spain, 1649: Plague (80,000 dead)
  • Turkey, 1668: earthquake (8,000 dead)
  • British Isles: 1703: great storm (8,000 dead)
  • Hokkaido, 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)
  • India, 1775: Tsunami (60,000 dead)
  • Northamerica, 1775-82: Smallpox (130,000 dead)
  • Iran, 1780: earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • Caribbeans, 1780: Hurricane (22,000 dead)
  • Little Ice Age: 1780: New York harbour freezes.
  • Philadelphia, 1793: Yellow fever epidemic (5,000 dead)
  • New Madrid, 1811: earthquake.
  • Little Ice Age: 1814: Thames freezes for the last time in London.
  • Sumbawa, Indonesia, 1815: Mt Tambora erupts (88,000 dead) Year Without a Summer.
  • Japan, 1826: Tsunami (27,000 dead)
  • Cairo, 1831: Cholera epidemic, which spreads to London
  • London and Paris, 1832: Cholera epidemic (25,000 dead)
  • India: 1839: cyclone (300,000 dead)
  • Ireland, 1845: famine (one million dead)
  • Little Ice Age: 1850: warming begins.
  • Mapoli, Italy, 1857: earthquake (11,000 dead)
  • India, 1864: Cyclone (70,000 dead)
  • France, 1870-71: Smallpox (500,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1876: Cyclone (200,000 dead)
  • China, 1876-78: Drought (9 million dead)
  • China, 1881: Typhoon (300,000 dead)
  • Indonesia, 1883: Krakatoa eruption: tsunami (36,000 dead)
  • Huayan Kou, China, 1887: Yang-tse Kiang flooding (one million dead)
  • Mino-owari, Japan, 1891: earthquake (7,000 dead)
  • Sanriku, Japan, 1896: Tsunami (27,000 dead)
  • India, 1897: earthquake (1,500 dead)
  • India, 1900: 250,000 to 3.25 million die from drought, starvation and disease.
  • Galveston, 1900: Hurricane (8,000 dead)
  • Martinique, 1902: Volcano (38,000 dead)
  • San Francisco, 1906: earthquake and fire (3,000 dead)
  • Colombia, 1906: earthquake (1,000 dead)
  • Chile, 1906: earthquake (20,000 dead)
  • China, 1907: famine (20 million dead)
  • Siberia, 1908: Tunguska Event - probably caused by the airburst of a meteorite or comet 6 to 10 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
  • Messina, Italy, 1908: 7.5 earthquake (70,000 dead)
  • Mexico City, 1911: earthquake
  • Worldwide, 1918: Influenza pandemic (25-100 million dead)
  • Gansu, China, 1920: 8.6 earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • Ukraine, 1921: Famine (5 million dead)
  • Yokohama, Japan, 1923: 8.3 earthquake (143,000 dead)
  • Nanshan, China, 1927: 8.3 earthquake (200,000 dead)
  • China, 1928: 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)
  • China, 1941: 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)
  • Russia, 1947: Sikhote-Alin meteorite fall.
  • 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)
  • China, 1958-61: Famine (38 million dead)
  • Morocco, 1960: earthquake (10,000 dead)
  • Chile, 1960: 9.5 earthquake (5,700 dead)
  • Mt Huascaran, Peru, 1962: Volcano eruption (3,000)
  • 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)
  • Nicaragua, 1972: earthquake flood (10,000 dead)
  • Bangladesh, 1974: floods (28,000 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)
  • Andhra Pradesh, India, 1977: cyclone (10,000 dead)
  • Caribbeans, 1979: Hurricane (2,000 dead)
  • Mexico, 1982: volcanic eruption (1,800 dead)
  • Yemen, 1982: earthquake (3,000 dead)
  • Bhopal, India, 1984: Chemical pollution (3,800 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: Famine and floods (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)
  • 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 (111,000 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 (1,417 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)


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Lords of the Earth, 6th Edition © 2008 Thomas Harlan
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