With recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma severely hitting the United States and devastating the Caribbean, it is important to look to the past to identify trends in climate change, to verify tactics to protect ourselves from these natural disasters and to prepare for the future. The deadliness of these storms is determined primarily by the number of lives lost, but in some cases it is determined by the storm surge or the destruction caused.
These are the top ten worst storms of all time, number ten being the most deadly.
- In India, the Great Bombay Cyclone hit in 1882 and had a death toll of around 100,000 people. Historically, this region has had a lot of storm related natural disasters due to its proximity to large bodies of water, as well as the varying intensity of annual monsoons.
- Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, destroying homes, villages and medical centers. This was the worst storm to ever strike the area, taking an estimated 140,000 lives. The numbers are uncertain because the storm washed thousands out to sea who were never found.
- In 1991, Bangladesh faced Cyclone 02B that killed just under 140,000 individuals. These deaths were actually a result of the floods that the storm created, not the storm itself. Bangladesh, unfortunately, frequently experiences harsh storms and deadly flooding.
- Also in Bangladesh, the Chittagong Cyclone devastated parts of the nation in 1897. It had a death toll of around 175,000 and was incredibly destructive. However, due to its age, there are few specifics about the impact of the cyclone.
- The Great Backerganj Cyclone, which hit Bangladesh in 1876, killed close to 200,000 people. The storm hit the Meghna River and added approximately 12 meters of storm surge. As with most storms in Bangladesh, there was a large amount of flooding that followed.
- In 1975, China faced Typhoon Nina, which wouldn’t have been too deadly if the nation had been prepared. However, the impact of Typhoon Nina was multiplied by the poor infrastructure in a number of Chinese dams. Twelve dams broke, releasing massive amounts of water onto the streets of China and causing over $1.2 billion in damages. Because of China’s nondisclosure about the impact of the Typhoon, there is no accurate count of how many people were killed.
- The Coringa Cyclone, which hit India in 1839, took around 300,000 lives. The storm completely destroyed Coringa’s port and 20,000 vessels along with it. It created a storm surge of approximately 12 meters.
- In 1881, Haiphong, Vietnam was struck by a massive typhoon. This city was located at the mouth of a major river and was therefore helpless when the storm hit. The estimated casualties of the storm near 300,000.
- India and Bangladesh in 1737 faced a massive storm, but much of the data is unclear or unknown. The storm is sometimes referred to as the Hooghly River Cyclone. The estimate given by the Indian government is around 300,000 deaths, but many experts consider that number unreliable. Regardless of the death toll, however, this storm produced a storm surge of more than 12 meters and caused massive damage to Calcutta.
- Finally, the Boha Cyclone is number ten on the top ten worst storms of all time. It hit Bangladesh in 1970, taking 500,000 lives. The storm also massively impacted the fishing industry and produced a humanitarian crisis that ultimately took additional lives. This is the worst storm Bangladesh has ever faced and the worst the world has seen.
All of these storms were horrendous and involved staggering loss of life, and it is important to note that all of them occurred outside the United States. While storms have devastated parts of the U.S. this year and in the past, it should not be forgotten that other nations do need aid after suffering disasters just as, if not more, harmful than our own.
– Liyanga De Silva