11 of the deadliest cyclones in history
Here in the U.S., we’re most familiar with the term “hurricane,” but the word is really just a geographically specific name for the more general tropical cyclone. If you thought Hurricane Katrina was devastating, read on for details of the most destructive international cyclones in history.
Aerial view of a rural village showing cyclone damage in Bangladesh on May 1, 1991 (© Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Great Bhola Cyclone — Bangladesh
In November 1970, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane made landfall overnight on a densely populated, low-lying delta region in Bangladesh. Because there was no efficient way of communicating the danger of the storm to locals, approximately 300,000 to 500,000 people were killed. The storm wiped out many villages; Tazumuddin, in the most severely affected area, lost nearly half its population.
Hooghly River Cyclone — India and Bangladesh
India's Ganges River Delta is no stranger to cyclones; there have been many storms in the region that have killed more than 10,000 people. But the Hooghly River Cyclone, which made landfall in October 1737, was particularly destructive, killing 300,000 to 350,000 people, wiping out around 20,000 vessels and obliterating the majority of structures in Calcutta.
Haiphong Cyclone — Vietnam
Reportedly 300,000 people died in October 1881 when a devastating storm hit the Vietnamese port city of Haiphong, just 10 miles inland from the Gulf of Tonkin, though it's thought that many more died from disease and starvation after the storm. The cyclone was especially damaging because of the seaport's integral role in local economy.
Coringa Cyclone — India
Today, Coringa is a small village on the Godavari River along India's southeastern coast. But once it was a great port city, devastated first by a cyclone in 1789 that killed approximately 20,000 people, and second by a shattering storm in November 1839 that brought outrageous winds and a 40-foot storm surge, killing 300,000 people and wiping out 20,000 vessels.
Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876 — Bangladesh
In October 1876, a devastating cyclone formed over the Bay of Bengal and then struck Bangladesh at the Meghna River estuary. A 40-foot storm surge flooded coastal areas, and approximately 200,000 people died. The distinction in years is likely because there was another deadly Backerganj Cyclone in 1584.
Super Typhoon Nina — China
Though the typhoon that struck mainland China and Taiwan in late July and early August 1975 was relatively short-lived, it brought an absolutely absurd amount of rain: more than a year's average for China's Henan Province in just 24 hours. The heavy rain caused the Banqiao and Shimantan dams, built to withstand a 1,000-year flood, to collapse, flooding 29 counties in the province, affecting 11 million people and killing somewhere between 26,000 and 171,000 by various reports.
Cyclone 02B — Bangladesh
Winds stronger than 150 mph were blowing as this cyclone struck the Chittagong region in April 1991. Combined with a tidal surge topping 15 feet high, the storm wreaked havoc on the coastal area, killing approximately 140,000 people.
Cyclone Nargis hits Yangon, Myanmar on May 3, 2008 (© Reuters)
Cyclone Nargis — Myanmar
It was called "Asia's answer to Hurricane Katrina," a cyclone that brought 120 mph winds and a deadly storm surge to Myanmar's most vulnerable populated area in 2008. The result was one of Asia's worst storms in history, wiping out up to 95 percent of the buildings in some low-lying delta areas and reaching 25 miles inland. An estimated 140,000 people died, though 1.5 million were devastatingly affected.
Great Bombay Cyclone — India
In early June 1882, one of India's worst cyclones hit Mumbai (Bombay at the time). Storms typically brew over the Bay of Bengal, but this one formed from the Arabian Sea, causing floods that left at least 100,000 people dead in Mumbai alone.
Hakata Bay Typhoon — Japan
The outcome of a massive typhoon that struck Hakata Bay off Kyushu in August 1281 was one of historical proportions. At the time, the Mongol emperor was of invading Japan. The cyclone struck as approximately 4,400 Mongol vessels carrying around 140,000 soldiers were heading to sea. At least half those troops were killed in the storm, and those who made it back to land likely died at the hands of Japanese infantry or from lack of provisions.
Great Calcutta Cyclone — India
Calcutta has suffered its fair share of devastating cyclones. The last such recorded storm happened in 1864, and was crippling not only to Calcutta, then under British rule, but to England's shipping industry. Sixty thousand people were killed and 160 vessels destroyed, causing insurance companies in Liverpool to go under as well.
The sheer total number of deaths attributed to these major cyclones is just unbelievable. Some of history's greatest earthquakes have also produced similarly horrific numbers. Loss of life and destruction on these scales is off the charts, and the aftermath must have been horrendous for the people who somehow managed to survive these events. The raw power of nature is just phenomenal.
Peace to all ~
The Joplin tornado struck on Sunday, May 22, as an EF-5, the strongest rating on the . The twister killed 162 people, reported the Weather Channel, making it the seventh deadliest in U.S. history and the deadliest in at least 60 years. It also injured more than 1,000.
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