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.
North American Smallpox Epidemic (1775)
While the Revolutionary War was reshaping society and politics along the eastern seaboard, the Great Smallpox Epidemic was ravaging the entire North American continent from 1775 to 1782. Caused by a contagious virus known as “Variola major,” the initial signs of smallpox came 12 days later after exposure, where early symptoms included backache, fever, headache, vomiting, and general malaise. While there have been devastating outbreaks of smallpox from the time of early Spanish exploration, none were as fully documented as the early conflicts of the American Revolution from 1775 to 1776.
The Great White Plague (1600's)
This tuberculosis epidemic in Europe during the 17th century lasted for nearly 200 years. It was the leading cause of death in 1650 and very likely propagated due to poor sanitary conditions.
Gujarat Earthquake (2001)
This earthquake happened on India’s 51st Republic Day celebration in January 26, 2001. The quake, which had a magnitude between 7.6 and 7.7, lasted for over 2 minutes with the epicenter about 9 km south-southwest of the Chobari village. It resulted in a death toll of 20,000 people, injured 167,000 and destroyed 400,000 homes. It also caused major shock waves that spread 700 km where 21 districts were affected and left 600,000 people homeless.
The Black Death (1348)
This natural disaster was an epidemic that swept through Europe from 1348 to 1351 and killed an estimated 25 to 60% of Europe’s population. Some estimates were higher which would mean somewhere between 75 million to 200 million people. Also known as “the Great Mortality” or “the Pestilence,” it was the second plague pandemic of the Middle Ages, next only to the Justinian plague in the 6th century.
Spanish Influenza (1918)
The first wave of the Spanish flu, which is one of the several types of influenza viruses, might have begun in March 1918 and began to spread throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A contagious illness, it was responsible for the death of 20 million to 40 million people, though other estimates range from 40 million to 100 million people.