[li]China, 1959[/ul][/li]Massive flooding killed an estimated 2 million people. The magnitude of the disaster wasn’t new. In 1938 and 1939, flooding killed an estimated one million people. In 1931, the Yangtze River flooded, causing about 3 million deaths, including those who starved. In 1887, an estimated 900,000 people died when the Yellow River flooded
What was then known as “The Great Hurricane” slammed into the islands of Martinique, St. Eustatius and Barbados in October, killing about 22,000 people.
Ancient (by news standards) History: 1201, Middle East
A earthquake in Egypt and Syria killed an estimated 1.1 million people. Building materials of the day contributed to death toll. It took the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to convince builders that rigid brick and mortar construction is suicide in earthquake country. Modern steel-framed buildings swayed in California’s 1989 Loma Prieta quake that brought down a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but survived–often with little more damage than a cracked window.
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake
The undersea earthquake occurred on Dec. 26, generating a tsunami that killed 170,000 to 250,000 people, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. The earthquake originated in the Indian Ocean just off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, generating a tidal wave that struck the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand and other countries with waves up to 100 feet high. The tsunami caused damage and death as far as the east coast of Africa, about 5,000 miles from the quake’s epicenter. Estimates put the quake’s magnitude at 9.15. In May, scientists said the earthquake lasted about 10 minutes–an eternity when most last just a few seconds–and caused the entire planet to vibrate a few centimeters
An earthquake registering 6.3 on the Richter scale flattened much of the city of Bam, killing at least 50,000 people. In 1990, a landslide triggered by an earthquake killed an estimated 50,000 in western Iran
Central America, 1998
Hurricane Mitch slammed into Nicaragua and Honduras, killing about 10,000 people and leaving more than 2 million homeless. Mudslides wiped out entire villages.
Storm-induced flooding killed about 300,000 people. Flooding killed about 130,000 in 1991
The Nevada del Ruiz Volcano erupted, setting off a massive mudflow that inundated the city of Amero, killing an estimated 23,000 people
A 7.8 earthquake on Mt. Huascaran set off an avalanche that buried two towns, killing an estimated 20,000 people
An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale killed about 100,000 people
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