25 Worst Natural Disasters Ever Recorded

Posted by , Updated on May 19, 2017

The world’s worst natural disasters have claimed many lives and have caused millions in property damage. While there are many criteria as to what would be considered the “worst” of these disasters; the earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis on this natural disasters list are all horrific in their own right. These are the 25 worst natural disasters ever recorded.

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Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Eruption (1985)

Nevado del Ruiz

Also famed as La Mesa de Herveo, this stratovolcano holds the distinction of causing the second largest volcano-related disaster of the 20th century. The volcano, which generally generates Plinian eruptions or swift-moving currents of hot gas and rock called pyroclastic flows, produced an enormous flow that buried and devastated the town of Armero in Tolima in November 13, 1985. What was tragically known as the “Armero tragedy” caused the death of 25,000 people.


Tangshan Earthquake in China (1976)

Tangshan earthquake in China.jpg

The Great Tangshan earthquake struck China on July 28, 1976 causing the death of 240,000 people and injured 164,000 more. Regarded as the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century, it also rocked, both literally and politically, the seat of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. The 7.8 earthquake obliterated the city of Tangshan and was caused by the 25-mile long Tangshan Fault, which runs near the city.


Hurricane Andrew (1993)

Hurricane Andrew

Probably one of the most famous natural disaster examples, hurricane Andrews was formed by a tropical wave that moved to the west coast of Africa on August 14, 1992. It became a major tropical depression by August 16, though its intensity was initially prevented by a wind shear. During the succeeding days, it developed into a destructive tropical cyclone, named Hurricane Andrew. Due to its massive destruction which caused 65 fatalities and US $26 billion in property damages. Hurricane Andrew became the 5th costliest hurricane in US history after hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Ike, with the name Andrew retired from the hurricane names list in the spring of 1993.


Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami (2011)

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

A 9.0 – 9.1 magnitude quake followed by a tsunami hit the east coast of Japan in March 11, 2011. With an underwater depth of 29 km, this was the largest earthquake to ever strike Japan in recorded history. Documented as the 4th most powerful earthquake in the world, it was responsible for the death of 15,894 people with 6,152 injured and 2,562 people missing. It also affected 20 prefectures, with over 127,000 buildings completely destroyed and over 272,000 buildings “half collapsed”. The earthquake also caused a near nuclear disaster when there was a partial meltdown in 3 reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is the 2nd largest nuclear disaster after Chernobyl.


Aleppo Earthquake (1138)

Aleppo Earthquake

The deadliest earthquake in history, it occurred in October 11, 1138 and was named after the city of Aleppo in Syria, now called Halab. Its death toll was approximated at 230,000 as the city was destroyed along with its surrounding areas.

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