When you are asked to recall what you believe to be the worst, or one of the worst, natural disasters in World history, what do you use as qualifying requirements? Maybe there are only one or two real natural disasters that you can recall…and just for the record 9/11 is not a natural disaster. It was a disaster, yes, but overall it would not have happened without human involvement.
This is only mentioned because it was an answer that was given in response to the preceding question. The qualifiers for this article are based on deaths resulting from the natural disaster. Many events are tragic, but the loss of human life drastically increases the sadness surrounding an event. The San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire in 1906 was definitely horrible and the largest natural disaster in US history with a death toll estimated at 700 in 1906. This number was later recalculated with reasoning that is more modern and resulted in an estimate that the actual death toll was closer to 3000. Even at 3000 this is still only a blip on the radar of the natural disasters that claimed the most human lives.
1931 China Floods:
In August of 1931 after months of heavy rainfall the three main rivers in China, Yangtze, Hwang and Hwai, overflowed their banks and began the devastation that would not end for many months. Unlike most instances of floods, that we are familiar with, the Gaoy floodwaters did not recede for 3-6 months depending on the location. This disaster affected 50 million people and the estimated death toll when all was said and done was set at 3.7 million.
The Eruption of Mount Tambora
For those who are unfamiliar Mount Tambora is and active, still to this day, volcano located on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. Prior to the blast in 1815, the volcano stood at an impressive 12,000 ft; however, during the eruption the top 4000 ft were destroyed. An estimated 10,000 were buried alive by the lava flows and even more were killed in the subsequent “year without summer”. Ash from Tambora blocked the sign creating incredibly cold temperatures and widespread famines.
The Indian Ocean Tsunami
In 2004, the USGS (US Geological Survey) this tsunami unleashed itself on Indonesia. The force is estimated to have been the equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima type atomic bombs. The Tsunami was triggered by a 9.0 magnitude quake off the coast of Sumatra that caused numerous large waves traveling at the speed of jets to batter the land. By nightfall, the death toll was estimated to be 150,000.
These are by no means the top of the tragedy list, although some may be. It is quickly that these larger disasters are forgotten in favour of events that are more current. For instance, many people will find Common Ground in that they can recall the Krakatoa, Indonesia eruption but not Tambora. This is true even though the latter was much larger and had 3 times the death toll. These are overshadowed by the death tolls of diseases. The Gaoy floods that killed 3.7 million human beings is lost beside the estimated 30 million people who have lost their lives to the aids pandemic, or the 300 million approximately, who died from small pox. It is important that we as a civilization remember and assess these previous disasters and the spread of disease in order to minimize the number of lives lost to them.
This Article is Written by Samantha Priest Guest Author At Envirocivil and She is a part time blogger