These top 10 worst cyclones in the world have devastated communities with lasting effects. A tropical cyclone is an intense spinning storm system with a low-pressure center that forms over warm water. All over the world, cyclones have created chaos and devastation. Once tropical cyclones develop sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, they are classified as either hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. The name of a tropical cyclone depends on the region in which they occur. Those that occur in the Eastern Pacific are hurricanes. Those that occur in Southeast Asia are typhoons. And those that occur in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific regions are cyclones. Here are the 10 worst cyclones in the world, from least to most severe.
10 Worst Cyclones in the World
- Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942 (Bangladesh, 1942)
Coming in as the least severe of the list is the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1942. The cyclone struck the eastern coast of Bangladesh Oct. 16 with 70 miles per hour winds, causing a 20-foot storm surge. The cyclone led to the deaths of 61,000 people and destroyed at least 3,000 homes in the afflicted areas.
- Cyclone Nargis (Myanmar, 2008)
On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar, moving across the southern region of the country over two days. Cyclone Nargis particularly devastated the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar. The United Nations approximated the cyclone affected 2.4 million people. As a result of the cyclone, 84,500 people died, and 53,800 went missing.
- Cyclone 02B (Bangladesh, 1991)
Cyclone 02B, commonly referred to as the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1991, made landfall onto the southeastern coastal region of Chittagong on April 29, 1991. The cyclone devastated Bangladesh, killing more than 135,000 people, and rendering 10 million people homeless. Plus, one million cows died as a result of the cyclone. More importantly, the cyclone devastated the country’s crops. As a result, many survivors of the cyclone would end up facing a risk of starvation. Cyclone 02B resulted in more than $1.5 billion in damages.
- Chittagong Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1897)
In 1897, the Chittagong Cyclone devastated the town of Chittagong in Bangladesh, killing 175,000 people, and destroying more than half of the buildings in town. Unlike some of the other cyclones on this list, there is not much data or news coverage available on the cyclone.
- Great Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1876)
Also known as the Bengal Cyclone of 1876, the cyclone occurred Oct. 31, 1876, in Bangladesh, leading to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. Forming over the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone made landfall at the Meghna River Estuary. Combined with an already high tide, the Cyclone caused a 40-foot storm surge that devastatingly flooded low lying coastal areas. The high tide and storm surge made the effects of the Cyclone deadly in particular; an estimated 50 percent of deaths from the cyclone resulted from starvation and disease associated with the flooding.
- Backerganj Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1584)
Occurring in 1584, the Backerganj Cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal and struck Bangladesh. Creating destruction in Bangladesh, the cyclone caused an estimated 200,000 deaths.
- Coringa Cyclone (India, 1839)
The port city of Coringa was struck by a disastrous cyclone Nov. 25, 1839. The cyclone brought heavy winds and produced a 40-foot storm surge, causing havoc throughout the city. The cyclone killed 300,000 people and completely demolished the port, destroying around 20,000 ships. Coringa has never fully recovered from the damage of the cyclone and is now a small village.
- Haiphong Cyclone (Vietnam, 1881)
Next is the 1881 Haiphong Cyclone of Vietnam. On Oct. 8, 1881, the Haiphong Cyclone struck into the Gulf of Tonkin, setting off a course of tidal waves that flooded the Northeastern city of Haiphong. The flooding devastated Haiphong and led to the widespread destruction of the city. The Haiphong Cyclone led to an estimated 300,000 deaths. However, more are thought to have died afterward from starvation and disease, as a result of the flooding.
- Hooghly River Cyclone (India and Bangladesh, 1737)
One of the deadliest natural disasters in all of history, the Hooghly River Cyclone, also known as the Calcutta Cyclone, devastated the Indian city of Calcutta, as well as the surrounding regions. The cyclone made landfall just south of Calcutta in the Ganges River Delta, creating a 30-40 foot storm surge, and bringing an approximated 15 inches of rain over six hours. The cyclone devastated the city of Calcutta, destroying the majority of buildings and structures, mostly made from wood and having straw roofs. Many existing brick structures were also damaged to a point beyond repair. The cyclone led to the deaths of 300,00 to 350,000 people. While most data focuses on Calcutta, it is also thought that villagers in East Bengal and Bangladesh died as a result of the cyclone. Additionally, the Hoogly River Cyclone destroyed 20,000 vessels.
- Great Bhola Cyclone (Bangladesh, 1970)
The most severe cyclone on the list is the deadliest tropical cyclone ever, Great Bhola Cyclone. It completely devastated Pakistan (then East Pakistan). The cyclone started out as a depression in the Bay of Bengal Nov. 8, 1970, and quickly intensified into a tropical cyclone with 85 to 90 mile-per-hour winds by Nov. 11. The cyclone further intensified and moved north by November 12th, bringing with it 140 mile-per-hour winds and a 20-foot high storm surge. Unfortunately, while meteorologists did know of the impending cyclone, they had no way of notifying most people living within the islands of the Ganges River Delta and the coastal plain; thus, most people didn’t even know that it was coming. The cyclone killed between 300,000 to 500,000 people, making it the deadliest cyclone ever, as well as one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The cyclone resulted in more than $490 million in damages, and 85 percent of homes were either damaged or destroyed.
These are the 10 worst cyclones to have occurred within recorded history. They are also among the deadliest natural disasters of all time and have created mass destruction. To this day, communities like Coringa, have yet to fully recover from the damages of the disaster. Hopefully, with the development of new technologies, more investment into foreign aid, and support for building more cyclone-resistant infrastructure, cyclones will be easier to track and people will be warned in advance.
– Nicholas Bykov