20 Of The Most Terrifying Natural Disasters



When you wake up in the morning and check the weather, you’ll see things like the chance of wind, rain, or snow. Some days you might even hear the meteorologist predict things like hail or an ice storm. But other times, horrific weather events come on so suddenly there isn’t even a chance to check the weather, let alone prepare for its consequences. Other times, the weather doesn’t have anything to do with it, and other parts of nature take over and cause events so extreme that thousands of lives are lost in their wake. Here are 20 of the worst natural disasters that have taken place all over the world.

Haiti Earthquake

On January 12th, 2010, Haiti was rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. This was the worst earthquake Haiti had seen since 1770 and over 200,000 people lost their lives as a result of its devastation.

Indian Ocean Earthquake

Although it lasted only 10 seconds, a 9.15 magnitude earthquake caused unimaginable tragedy on December 26th, 2004. Between 200,000-310,000 thousand people from countries including Sri Lanka and Thailand were killed as a result of the tsunami this quake caused.

Hurricane Katrina

Said to be the 6th strongest hurricane to hit the United States, Hurricane Katrina killed almost 2,000 people in 2005. This storm was so powerful it also caused roughly $100 billion USD in damages.

Cyclone Nargis

Official figures show that Cyclone Nargis took the lives of 84,500 people when it made landfall in 2008. Areas affected by this cyclone include India, Bangladesh, Yangon, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Eruption

This 1985 eruption is regarded as the second worst of its kind in the 20th century. It’s also known as La Mesa de Herveo and it took 25,000 lives. The sheer scale of the eruption is phenomenal, releasing over 35 million tonnes of material. In comparison, the eruption from Mount St. Helens in 1980 only released approximately 3% of the material released from Nevado del Ruiz.

Tangshan Earthquake

China experienced the worst earthquake of the 20th century when it was struck in 1976. Ultimately, over 240,000 lives were lost and an estimated 164,000 were injured.

Hurricane Andrew

As the 5th most costly hurricane in American history, Hurricane Andrew killed 65 people and caused $26 billion USD in damages in 1992. This hurricane was a result of a tropical wave from the west coast of Africa.

Tōhoku Tsunami and Earthquake

On March 11th, 2011, Japan experienced the largest earthquake of its history, and the 7th most extreme in the history of the world. After the resulting tsunami, an estimated 20 thousand people were killed or injured by it. The tsunami was so large that, at some points, the waves were over 40m high (133 ft).

Aleppo Earthquake

Although it occurred nearly nine-hundreds of years ago, the Aleppo Earthquake in Syria is still regarded as the worst in history. It caused 230,000 deaths and completely wiped out what is now Habab, on October 11, 1138.

Gujarat Earthquake

This earthquake lasted for over 2 minutes on January 26th, 2001 in India. 400,000 homes were destroyed and 20,000 lives were lost.

East Africa Drought

The lives of almost 10 million people throughout Africa were threatened due to a drought in 2011. It was the worst drought in 60 years and resulted in not only widespread famine, but in the deaths of many.

European Heat Wave

A significant portion of Europe was dried up due to a heat wave in 2003 which resulted in deadly forest fires, among other things. It was the hottest summer since 1540 and over 14,000 lives were lost in France alone.

Yangtze River Flood

In what is often considered the worst natural disaster of the 20th century, torrential rains caused deadly flooding in China’s Yangtze River in 1931. An astonishing 3.7 million people were killed as a result.

Mozambique Flood

An estimated 800 people were killed in a flood that lasted for over a month in Mozambique in 2000. 20,000 cattle were also killed and thousands were left homeless.

Haiyuan Earthquake

Over 240,000 died after this 1920 earthquake in China. This horrific earthquake is also referred to as the Gansu earthquake and is the 4th worst recorded earthquake ever.

Antioch Earthquake

In the year 526, between 250,000-300,000 people in Antioch and Syria were killed from this earthquake. It is considered to be the third worst earthquake in world history.

Bhola Cyclone

Bangladesh experienced a cyclone so powerful in 1970 that it wiped out entire villages. Winds reached 185 km/h and about 500,000 died as a result.

New Zealand Earthquake

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on February 22nd, 2011. 185 people were killed, 238 reported missing, and 164 were injured.

Afghanistan Blizzard

With temperatures below -22 degrees Fahrenheit, Afghanistan experienced the second worst blizzard in modern history in 2008. Over 1,300 people lost their lives, along with 100,000 sheep and 315,000 cattle.

Iran Blizzard

The deadliest blizzard in history took place in February, 1972 in Iran. 4,000 people lost their lives under 26 feet of snow in a normally dry country.