25 Worst Natural Disasters Ever Recorded

Posted by , Updated on September 20, 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. So what are some of the worst disasters? Find out with these 25 Worst Natural Disasters Ever Recorded.

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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 after exposure. 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.


Hurricane Harvey (2017)


On August 25, 2017, Category 4 hurricane Harvey hit Texas causing around $180 billion in damage. That’s more than any other natural disaster in U.S. history for the exception of the largest estimates of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Harvey flooded one-third of Houston, forcing 39,000 people into shelters and damaging 203,000 homes.


Gujarat Earthquake (2001)

Gujarat earthquake

This earthquake happened on India’s 51st Republic Day celebration on January 26, 2001. The quake, which had a magnitude between 7.6 and 7.7, lasted for over 2 minutes. The epicenter was 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, began around March 1918 and spread throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A contagious illness, it was responsible for the death of between 20 million to 40 million people, though other estimates range from 40 million to 100 million people.

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25. Colin CrowleyHaiti Post Earthquake January 2010CC BY 2.0, 24. Neryl Lewis, RRT, Cyclone Nargis (10690741785)CC BY 2.0, 23-18. Wikimedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 17. ChiefHira, Damage of Tsunami at Sendai port 01CC BY-SA 3.0, 16. Alper Çuğun from Berlin, Germany, Aleppo. Excavations (1265995294)CC BY 2.0, 15-11. Wikimedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 10. Oxfam East Africa, 2011 Horn of Africa famine Oxfam 01CC BY 2.0, 9. Justin Kilcullen/Trócaire via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 8. Giorgiogp22003 europe summer temperature anomalyCC BY-SA 3.0, 7. wikimedia commons (public domain), 6. Antti Lipponen via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 5-4. wikimedia commons (public domain), 3. Gabriel NGujarat Earthquake Relief by RSS VolunteersCC BY-SA 3.0, 2-1. Wikimedia Commons.com (Public Domain)

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