Violent natural disasters have devastated humanity over the centuries, but because some of them struck long ago, scientists have been unable to estimate a death count. The Mediterranean island of Stroggli, for example, is believed to have been completely wiped out by a volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami that eradicated the entire Minoan civilization around 1500 B.C., although the death toll remains uncertain.
The 7 deadliest natural disasters which involve mostly earthquakes and floods for which historians can provide accurate death tolls, however, have killed an estimated total of 10 million people. Here, the 10 deadliest natural disasters, from fewest casualties to most, starting with an earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in Syria.
Lets Start The Counting
On July 28, 1976, the epicenter of the Tangshan Earthquake struck near Tangshan, an industrial city with approximately one million inhabitants located in Hebei, People’s Republic of China. Tangshan’s dense population was devastated by the magnitude-8 earthquake. The Chinese government initially reported a death toll of 655,000, but that number was later re-estimated to about 242,000 people.
The earthquake hit in the early morning and lasted 14 to 16 seconds. Chinese government official sources state a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter magnitude scale, though some sources listed it as high as 8.2. It was followed by a major 7.1 magnitude aftershock some 16 hours later, increasing the death toll to over 255,000. The earthquake was generated by the 25-mile-long Tangshan Fault, which runs near the city and ruptured due to tectonic forces caused by the Amurian Plate sliding past the Eurasian Plate.