of a Natural World |
(Top Posts - History - 041001)
For Intelligent Designer
fans and/or fans of a
benevolent deity ... consider the following and
try to reconcile your theory/faith with the realities
of our natural world.
It's a natural world out there, wonderful to behold
on most days, for those of us fortunate to be in
that part of the world (and that part of our lives)
whereby the bounty of the world is perceptible
as a benefit to life.
Let's not forget the natural state of affairs which
confronts us with a serious set of circumstances
by which only human action can foil the at times
threatening consequences of life in a natural world.
- - -
Excerpts from "The Pessimists Guide to History",
by Stuart Flexner with Doris Flexner, from 1628 BC
to 1991 AD
}} Comments/Excerpts from "Devastation! The World's
}} Worst Natural Disasters", by Lesley Newson, are
}} prefaced with "}}"
- - -
}} From chart on page 78 - 29 major species extinction
}} events in the last 550 million years.
}} From page 96 ... "The millions of species that inhabit
}} the Earth today are only a tiny proportion of life that
}} ever existed. Competition between species and environ-
}} mental changes are continually causing some species to
}} disappear and others to evolve. ...
}} The dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago in the
}} most recent mass extinction. Earlier extinctions were
}} equally dramatic. More than 70 percent of animals died
}} out toward the end of the Devonian period and, at the
}} end of the Permian period, more than 90 percent of
}} species became extinct."
}} Last 100 Years - "One million people have died as a
}} direct result of earthquakes. Another million have been
}} killed by hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones.
}} Over nine million have drowned in floods. Tens of mil-
}} lions more have been claimed by drought and disease ..."
}} From page 106 ... "Infectious diseases currently kill
}} about 17 million people every year - number one
}} factor on each continent: Europe - Tuberculosis,
}} North America - AIDS, Central America - Malaria,
}} South America - Malaria, Africa - Malaria, Middle
}} East - Malaria, Southeast Asia - Malaria, North Asia
}} and Japan - Tuberculosis, South Pacific - Malaria."
}} The fundamental fact of life is that all living things
}} must compete for the Earth's resources. We see
}} ourselves as being at the top of the food chain,
}} but in reality we are providing sustenance for a
}} host of other living things. ...
}} Our rivals may lack our ability to think up new
}} ways of competing with us, but they are far more
}} numerous and can reproduce far more quickly.
}} This allows them to evolve new, more efficient
}} weapons and defenses with astonishing speed,
}} so that when they get the upper hand, even for
}} a short while, the whole of humanity is at severe
- - -
Prior to 1628 B.C. - Countless tragedies over the
millennia, not the least of which is the asteroid impact
65 million years ago on the Yucatan peninsula; said
disaster (combined with massive volcanic eruptions
of the Deccan Traps in India) leading to the demise
of the dinosaurs, the rise of the mammals, and the
eventual rise of humankind.
ca. 1628 B.C. - Minoan civilization devastated by
volcanic eruption on Thera. Untold thousands killed
by the eruption and accompanying 200-300 foot
454 B.C. - Roman plague wipes out much of the
430-427 B.C. - Athens plague kills about one-third
of the city's 100,000 inhabitants.
426 B.C. - Greek earthquake kills thousands;
thousands more left injured or homeless.
373 B.C. - Earthquake causes Helice, Greece, to
sink into the Gulf of Corinth.
217 B.C. - Killer earthquake strikes Northern
Africa, killing more than 50 thousand.
164-154 B.C. - Killer smallpox epidemic breaks out
in Rome killing unknown thousands for over ten
years after the initial outbreak.
19 B.C. - Over 100,000 killed by a severe earth-
quake in what is now modern-day Syria.
79 - Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed by
eruption of Mount Vesuvius; thousands die;
cities plunged beneath fifteen to twenty feet of
79-88 - Plague in Rome kills upwards of ten
thousand people per day at its height.
115 - Antioch, in what is now modern-day
Syria, destroyed by an earthquake; unknown
125 - One million killed by plague in North
164-180 - Roman legions returning from Syria
bring back a plague which spreads throughout
the empire, depopulating entire cities in some
186 - One of the most devastating eruptions
in history strikes New Zealand; unknown death
250-265 - A plague strikes the Roman empire,
leaving much of it depopulated by its end.
365 - Alexandria, Egypt, wiped out by a tidal
wave from an earthquake.
472 - Mount Vesuvius erupts; kills scores and
causes ash to spread out over much of Europe.
526 - Antioch, Syria, earthquake kills 250,000.
542 - Constantinople plague kills 300,000 out of
a total population of 500,000.
746-749 - Plague ravages Constantinople and
spreads to Italy and Greece; 200,000 die.
1040 - Tabriz (in modern-day Iran) earthquake
kills over 50,000.
1169 - Mount Etna volcanic eruption in Sicily
results in 15,000 deaths from earthquakes and
1200-1202 - Nile dries up; Egyptian famine results;
people resort to cannibalism; in Cairo, people
died by the hundreds each day.
1277 - Holland floods; unknown thousands die.
1347-1351 - Black death strikes; over 25 million
die in Europe.
}} From page 111 ... "No volcano, earthquake,
}} storm, or flood has devastated human populations
}} on the same scale as infectious disease. A plague
}} outbreak known as the Black Death killed roughly
}} one-third of the populations of Europe and Asia
}} in the Middle Ages."
1347-17th century - Chorea strikes; victims
undergo a twitching leading to uncontrollable
leaping, furious screaming, and foaming at the
mouth. This goes on for hours or for a day or
more before the victim dies. This disease abates
in the 17th century after ranging throughout
central Europe; death toll unknown.
1421 - Dikes near Dort, Holland, burst; 72 cities
swept away. Over 100,000 die.
1456 - Naples, Italy, destroyed by earthquake;
1485, 1506, 1517, 1528, 1551 - Sweating
sickness in England kills thousands.
1490s - Syphilis epidemic begins in Italy and
spreads throughout Europe and Russia.
}} 1492-1900 - From page 111 ... "In the years
}} following the colonization of Central America
}} by Europeans, as much as 90 percent of the
}} native population died of infectious diseases.
}} Because the victims of these disasters could
}} neither see the cause of nor find a way of pre-
}} venting their suffering, these diseases spread
}} both death and terror."
}} From page 114 ... "It has now been estimated
}} that between 1492 and 1900, the native popula-
}} tion of American dropped from 100 million to
}} less than 10 million."
1521 - Smallpox, brought by Spanish conquerors,
kills millions of Aztecs, possibly half of the
1530 - Holland dikes burst; over 400,000 die.
1531 - Lisbon, Portugal, earthquake kills 30,000.
1556 - January 23, 1556, earthquake in northern
China kills a n estimated 830,000.
1570 - Holland dikes burst; over 50,000 die.
1574 - Spaniards invade Holland but the siege
is broken when over 20,000 Spaniards killed by
1591 - Volcano Taal in the Philippines erupts;
thousands killed by poisonous gas.
1622 - Vicious hurricane strikes a large convoy
of ships sailing from Havana, Cuba, to Spain.
1626 - Naples, Italy, earthquake kills 70,000.
1631 - Mount Vesuvius erupts; over 4,000 die.
1638 - Cataclysmic eruption of Indonesian
volcano kills hundreds.
1665 - Great plague of London kills 100,000.
1666 - West Indies hurricane kills thousands.
1669 - Mount Etna erupts; 20,000 die.
1672 - Naples, Italy, Black Plague kills 400,000.
1692 - Jamaica hit by tidal wave; 3,000 die.
1693 - Naples, Italy, earthquake kills 93,000.
Catania, Italy, earthquake kills 60,000. Mount
Etna erupts, killing 18,000 on the island of
1694 - Barbados hurricane sinks 26 British ships;
1703-1704 - Tokyo earthquake kills 37,000. Resulting
tidal waves wipe out entire villages.
1711 - Black Plague kills 500,000 in the Holy Roman
1715 - Spanish ships struck by hurricane off the
Florida coast; 1,000 die.
1719 - Caravan of travelers in Sweden, headed towards
Norway, struck by snowstorm; 7,000 die.
1722 - Bread in Russia infected by a fungus; results
in a disease called ergotism, causing a severe nervous
disorder resulting in delusions, convulsions, burning
pain, and finally, death; 20,000 die.
1727 - Persian earthquake, in Tabriz (in modern-day
Iran) kills over 75,000.
1731 - Beijing, China, struck by massive earthquake;
1735-1740 - Diphtheria outbreak in New England
kills 80 percent of the children under 10 years
1737 - Calcutta, India, struck by a cyclone on
October 7, sending a 40 foot tidal wave crashing
ashore; 300,000 die. Four days later, a devastating
earthquake hits the city, killing another 300,000.
1754 - Cairo, Egypt, rocked by an earthquake;
}} 1755 - From page 45 ... "The Roman Catholic resi-
}} dents of Lisbon believed that their good fortune
}} depended on faith in God; the Jesuits, who were
}} based in the city, taught the people that their salvation
}} depended on the strict observance of Catholic rituals.
}} The Wrath of God - At 9:30 am, Sunday, November 1,
}} 1755, the faithful were gathered together in churches
}} and cathedrals all over Lisbon to celebrate All Saints'
}} Day. While priests were intoning mass, the ground
}} began to shake, walls swayed, and huge chunks of
}} masonry began falling on congregations across the
}} city. ... Some 60,000 people lost their lives in the
}} earthquake, 15,000 of whom lived in Lisbon. ...
}} As the survivors watched Lisbon burn and grieved
}} for their losses, it was natural for them to inquire
}} why God had destroyed their churches and killed
}} the faithful on All Saints' Day. The question was
}} taken up by scholars all over Europe, many of whom
}} rejected mystic and religious reasons in favor of a
}} quest to find a scientific explanation for the cause
}} of this disaster. This enquiry led in time to the devel-
}} opment of modern geology.
}} This revolution in thinking was reflected by the
}} practical actions of Portugal's chief minister, the
}} Marques de Pombal, who quickly assumed charge
}} of rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake and forced
}} the Jesuits to leave the city."
1755 - Boston, Massachusetts, hit by the worst
earthquake in its history; no one dies.
1769-1770 - 18 month drought in Hindustan, India,
causes a terrible famine; millions starve to death.
1769 - Gun powder, stored in a church in Brezia,
Italy, struck by lightning; the church and surrounding
buildings devastated by an explosion; over 3,000 die.
1770 - Storm sinks French merchant ship carrying over
700 off the coast of Chile; only a handful survive.
1772 - Papandayan, Java, volcano erupts, blowing about
4,000 feet off the top of its volcano cone; 3,000 die.
1776 - Caribbean hurricane sinks French and Dutch
merchant ships; 6,000 die.
1780 - West Indies hurricane kills 20,000 to 30,000.
1781-1782 - Worldwide influenza epidemic starts in
China and spreads to strike 30,000 daily in Russia;
in Rome, two-thirds are stricken by the disease; the
death toll is unknown.
1782 - Hurricane kills thousands in Barbados.
1783 - Eight years of earthquakes strike Italy, with
the worst leveling Calabria and more than 180 towns in
the area, on February 4-5; 30,000 die outright, with
up to 30,000 dying as a result of the aftershocks and
famine which follow.
1783 - Iceland volcano erupts; 9,000 die.
1787 - British slave ship hit by a storm; almost 500
1789 - Cyclone hits India; 20,000 die.
1790-1792 - Droughts devastate India; cannibalism
becomes widespread; death toll unknown.
1792 - Plague sweeps across Egypt; 800,000 die.
1793 - Japanese volcano Unsen erupts on a small
island off the coast of Japan; the island sinks into
the sea; 53,000 on the island perish.
1793 - Yellow fever strikes Philadelphia; thousands
1794 - Combination volcano-earthquake kills 40,000
1797 - Earthquakes and volcanoes in Ecuador kill
40,000 or more.
1798 - New England blizzard kills hundreds.
1799-1800 - Yellow fever strikes Spain and North
Africa; 80,000 die in Spain and thousands die
in North Africa.
1805 - Naples and Calabria, Italy, earthquake kills
1810 - British frigate Minotaur runs aground in
high seas; 480 die.
1811 - Tornado strikes Charleston, South Carolina.
Over 500 die.
1811 - Storms strike British ships returning from duty
in the Baltic; 2,000 die.
1811-1812 - Earthquakes strike New Madrid, Missouri;
death toll unknown; Mississippi River runs backwards
for hundreds of miles; tremors felt over an area of over
1.5 million square miles, nearly half the area of the
continental United States; death toll unknown.
1812 - Caracas, Venezuela, earthquake kills 20,000.
1814 - Philippine volcano erupts; 12,000 die.
1815 - April 15, 1815, Indonesian volcano Tambora
erupts, blowing off its 36 cubic miles of ejecta, the
largest eruption in history; 12,000 die. In 1816, the
year without a summer results, bringing cold weather
and famine to North America and Europe.
1816-1817 - As a result of the year without a summer,
in Switzerland people were reduced to catching cats
for food. Sickness and fever accompanied the
starvation, and in Ireland an estimated 50,000
eventually died as a result of a typhus epidemic
precipitated by the harsh famine.
1819 - Genoa and Palermo, Italy, demolished by
an earthquake; 20,000 die.
1822 - Earthquakes strike Aleppo and Antioch,
Syria; 20,000 die.
1822 - Cyclone strikes the mouth of the Ganges
River in India; 50,000 die.
1822 - Galung Gung, Java, volcano erupts twice;
1824 - Saint Petersburg, Russia, flood drowns
1826-1837 - Cholera epidemics ravage Europe; over
900,000 die in 1831 alone. Worldwide Cholera
epidemics occur in 1840-1842, 1863-1875, and
1893-1894 - the total death toll from these epidemics
is in the millions.
1829 - Dike breaks in Gdansk Poland; flood kills
1831 - Hurricane in Barbados kills 1,500.
1833 - Cyclone in Calcutta, India; 50,000 die.
1835 - Charles Darwin witnesses earthquake in Chile;
1840 - Tornado in Natchez, Mississippi; 317 die.
1841 - Hurricane wipes out Saint Jo, Florida; 4,000 die.
1842 - Tornado in Natchez, Mississippi; 500 die.
}} 1845-1848 - From page 109 ... "When potato blight
}} struck in 1845, Ireland's population was nine million.
}} One-and-a-half million people died during the ensuing
}} famine, and an additional 1,600,000 emigrated."
1847 - Massive earthquake in Nagano, Japan; 34,000 die.
1851-1855 - Tuberculosis epidemic in Britain; 250,000 die.
1856 - Lightning strikes Church of St. John on the island of
Rhodes; being that the church was used by the occupying
Ottoman army to store huge quantities of gun powder, the
church blows up and kills 4,000.
1857 - Earthquake strikes Tokyo, Japan; resulting fire kills
most of the 107,000 victims of this disaster.
1857 - Russian warship Leffert sinks in a storm off the
Gulf of Finland; 826 die.
1859 - Merchant ship Royal Charter runs aground and
breaks apart in heavy seas off Liverpool; 459 die.
1862 - Typhoon devastates Canton and Whangpoo, China;
1864 - Cyclone strikes Calcutta, India; 50,000 die. Another
30,000 die from disease after the storm.
1866-1870 - Northern India drought causes famine, killing
1.5 million; 250,000 die in a fever epidemic which breaks
out in northwest India after the famine.
1868 - Much of South America racked by an earthquake;
1870 - Storm causes British ironclad turret ship, the Captain,
to founder and sink, in the Bay of Biscay; 483 die.
1873 - British steamship Atlantic sinks in heavy seas off
Halifax, Nova Scotia; 550 die.
1875 - Flood of Garonne River, in France, kills 1,000.
1876-1878 - India famine; 5 million die.
1876-1879 - China famine; 13 million die from hunger,
disease, and predation; thievery, mob violence, suicide,
and cannibalism were commonplace, as hundreds of
thousands of people tried desperately to stay alive.
1876 - Subsea earthquake causes 100 foot tsunamis to
crash ashore along a 300 mile section of coastline in
northeast Japan; 28,000 die.
1876 - Cyclone strikes coastal area around the mouth of
the Megna River in Bengal, India; 100,000 perish. 100,000
more die of disease that spreads after the disaster.
1878 - Yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, New Orleans,
and other parts of the south; 14,000 die.
1881 - Hurricane strikes Florida and Carolinas; 700 die.
1882 - Tidal wave strikes Bombay, India; 100,000 die.
}} 1883 - From page 25 ... "On August 27, 1883 one of
}} the volcanoes on the tiny Indonesian island of Kraka-
}} tau erupted with such force that the explosion almost
}} totally destroyed the island, leaving a 960-foot deep
}} crater in the ocean floor. The blasts and heavy ash
}} falls triggered tsunamis, which struck the coastlines
}} of Java and Sumatra with waves up to 130 feet high.
}} The waves swept far inland, destroying hundreds
}} of villages and killing about 36,000 people."
1884 - Hurricane sweeps through southeastern U.S.;
1886 - Earthquake shakes eastern U.S.; 110 die.
1887 - Earthquake strikes French and Italian Riviera;
over 2,000 die.
1887 - Yellow River (Huang Ho) floods in China;
1.5 million die.
1888 - East coast blizzard; 800 die.
1888 - Hailstorms in India near Delhi; 250 die.
1889 - Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood; over 2,200 die.
1889-1890 - Worldwide influenza epidemic; death toll
1891 - Caribbean hurricane; 700 die.
1891 - Earthquake in central Japan; 7,300 die.
1893 - Hurricane hits Charleston, South Carolina; 1,000 die.
1893 - Killer hurricane strikes Louisiana, Mississippi, and
Alabama; 2,000 die.
1893-1894 - Worldwide cholera epidemic kills millions,
including composer Tchaikovsky.
1894 - Forest fire devastates Hinkley, Minnesota, and
surrounding towns; 600 die.
1895 - Spanish warship Reina Regente founders and sinks
in a storm near the Strait of Gibraltar; 402 die.
1896-1897 - 5 million die of famine and disease in India.
1898-1899 - 1.25 million die of drought and famine in India.
1896 - Saint Louis tornado kills 306.
1896 - Subsea earthquake creates a huge tidal wave, 80 feet
high and 300 miles wide, which strikes Japan, sweeping
entire coastal towns into the ocean; 28,000 die.
1898 - Coastal northeastern U.S. struck by blizzard; 455 die.
1900-1907 - Sleeping sickness strikes the area around Lake
Victoria in Uganda; 200,000 die.
}} 1900 - From page 70 ... "At the beginning of the 20th
}} century, Galveston was the premier city in Texas and
}} based on per capita income, its citizens were the 4th
}} richest in the United States. ... The busy Texas port was
}} highly exposed to storm damage, however, because it
}} was built on a low-lying sand spit that rose less than 6
}} feet above sea level.
}} Dawn on September 8, 1900 brought squally showers
}} and waves that pounded the beach at Galveston. By
}} midmorning, wind speeds were up to 40 mph and were
}} increasing fast. ... By mid afternoon, half of Galveston
}} Island was under water. In the eye wall of the storm,
}} winds blowing at more than 110 mph whipped up huge
}} sea waves, which crushed wooden buildings and washed
}} them away. ... The storm killed 6,000 residents, 1/7th of
}} the city's population."
1902 - British steamer Camorta founders in heavy seas off
Rangoon, Burma; 739 die.
}} 1902 - From page 23 ... "St. Pierre was the largest
}} town in the French colony of Martinique, with some
}} 30,000 inhabitants. The residents of this thriving
}} Caribbean port were used to the rumblings of the
}} 4,583-foot high Mont Pelee, located less than 5 miles
}} to the north ... but in April 1902 the mountain began
}} erupting in earnest. ... In an attempt to prevent a full
}} scale panic, Governor Mouttet moved to St. Pierre
}} with his wife on the evening of May 7, 1902.
}} Shortly before 8 am the next day, gaseous magma
}} exploded under the lava plug and burst through the
}} side of the volcano. Under cover of a large black
}} eruption cloud, a lethal concoction of superheated
}} gas and volcanic ash surged down Mont Pelee's
}} southern flank and tore through St. Pierre with
}} terrifying speed. ... Within seconds, the burning
}} cloud had killed all but two of St. Pierre's residents."
1902 - Volcano erupts in Guatemala; 6,000 die.
1903-1908 - Plague sweeps over India; 4 million die.
1906 - San Francisco earthquake and fire; 700 die.
1907 - Storms cause a collision of a schooner with the
Joy Line ship Larchmont, off the coast of Providence,
Rhode Island; the Larchmont sinks in 15 minutes; all
332 passengers and crew die.
1908 - Meteor strikes forest in Tunguska, a remote area
of central Siberia; two months of "bright nights" result
in the northern hemisphere, with enough light to read and
take photographs outside all night long; the sky was a
delicate "silent pink" in color; 25 square miles of forest
were flattened; as this occurred in a remote region, the
death toll was minimal.
1908 - Messina, on the island of Sicily, collapses in ruin
from severe earthquakes; up to 250,000 die.
1910-1913 - Black Plague in China and India; millions die.
1912 - Japanese steamer Kichemaru founders and sinks in
heavy seas off the coast of Japan; over 1,000 die.
1915 - Flooding rivers wash away entire villages in Kwang-
tung, Kwangsi, and Kiangsi, China; over 100,000 die.
1916 - Dikes break in Holland; 10,000 die.
1917 - Tornadoes strike Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,
Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas; 249 die.
1918-1919 - Virulent influenza outbreak starts at Fort Riley
and Camp Funston in Kansas; within a year, this new strain
of Spanish flu claims 22 million lives worldwide, including
over 550,000 Americans (10 times greater than the American
losses in World War I).
}} From page 118 ... "In the autumn of 1918, soldiers
}} fighting in World War I began to fall victim to a
}} vicious new form of influenza. It was so contagious
}} that entire units of men fell ill at once. Most of them
}} recovered, but many developed fatal complications.
}} Following the armistice in November, troops
}} returning home took the virus with them spreading
}} flu around the globe. Half of the world's population
}} fell sick and by mid-1919, 22 million people had
}} died as a result of this infection. ...
}} Spanish Flu died down only after nearly everyone
}} in the world had become immune to that form of
}} the influenza virus. New strains soon developed,
}} however, and there have been many flu epidemics
}} since. It is not known when or if a strain will
}} develop that is as virulent as the one that struck
}} between 1918 and 1919."
1918 - American steamer Otranto collides in heavy seas with
a transport vessel in the North Channel between the Scottish
and Irish coasts; the Otranto sinks and 425 die.
1918 - Gale force winds whip savage fires in Minnesota and
Wisconsin; 800 die.
1918 - Steamship Princess Sophia strikes a reef off of Juneau,
Alaska; it recovers but is struck by another storm the following
evening; 398 die.
1919 - Lake-filled volcano Keluit in Java erupts; a torrent of
mud and water results, killing 5,500.
1920 - Earthquake in north central China (Gansu) kills 180,000
1921-1923 - Famine strikes Soviet Union; millions starve to
1922 - Two typhoons strike Shantou, China; 60,000 die.
1923 - Earthquake strikes 60 miles offshore from Tokyo,
Japan; 30 foot tsunami and fires follow; 140,000 die.
}} 1925 - From page 59 ... "On March 18, 1925, a single,
}} very fast-moving tornado killed 689 people and injured
}} 1,980 when it tore through the midwestern states of
}} Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The Tri-State tornado
}} is the longest-lasting, fastest, and most destructive
}} on record. In three-and-a-half hours, it traveled 220
}} miles at speeds of up to 73 mph."
1926 - Hurricane strikes Florida; 450 die.
1927 - Mississippi valley floods; 313 die.
1927 - Earthquake in north central China (Gansu) kills 100,000.
1928-1929 - Famine strikes northwest China; 3 million die.
1928 - Saint Francis dam breaks (San Francisquito Canyon,
California) due to heavy rain; 350 die.
1928 - Hurricane strikes Lake Okeechobee area near West
Palm Beach, Florida; 2,500 die in Florida with another 2,500
dead in the Caribbean.
1931 - Severe diphtheria outbreak sweeps U.S.; 17,000
1931 - Chinese Yangtze River floods; 3.7 million die from
flood, disease, starving.
1932 - Earthquake in north central China (Gansu) kills 70,000.
}} 1932-1940 - From page 81 ... "The North American
}} Midwest suffered a long drought that left tens of thou-
}} sands of farmers destitute. Millions of acres of plowed
}} fields became as dry as dust and the parched topsoil was
}} blown away in huge black clouds. Thousands of people
}} died of starvation, or of lung diseases caused by breath-
}} ing the dust-laden air. The drought also forced more than
}} 350,000 people to abandon the region and move to other
}} parts of the United States."
1935 - Earthquake in northwestern India (now part of
Pakistan); 50,000 die.
1935 - Hurricane strikes Florida keys; 400 die.
1936 - As the result of a civil war and subsequent unrest,
a famine strikes Szechwan (now Sichuan), China; 5 million die.
1938 - 500-ton meteor strikes just outside Pittsburgh; had it
struck Pittsburgh, a city of over half a million people would
have been destroyed.
1938 - Hurricane strikes New England; 500 die.
1939 - Earthquake strikes Chillan, Chile; 50,000 die.
1939 - Flood and famine strikes much of northern China;
1939 - High winds, heavy seas, and blizzard cause wreck
of Soviet steamship Indirka, near Japan; 750 die.
1939 - Earthquake strikes wide area of eastern and northern
Turkey; 50,000 die.
1941 - Torrential rains unleash a mud slide in 185 miles
northwest of Lima, Peru; 3,000 die.
1942 - Hurricane strikes Bengal province in India; 40,000 die.
1942 - Fire strikes Coconut Grove nightclub in Boston,
Massachusetts; 491 die.
1944 - Hurricane strikes New England; 389 die.
1949 - Earthquake destroys over a half dozen cities and towns
in Ecuador; 6,000 die.
1950 - Flood in Anhui province in eastern China; 489 die.
1953 - Flood tides devastate east coast of England, the
Netherlands, and Belgium; 1,835 die.
1954 - Yangtze River floods in China; 40,000 die.
1954 - Pilgrims praying at a Muslim shrine, in Farahzad, Iran,
struck by a 90 foot high wall of water pouring through a
gorge; 2,000 die.
1954 - Typhoon strikes Japan; 1,600 die.
1954 - Hurricane Hazel strikes South Carolina and travels
upward through New England to Canada; 411 die.
1957 - Hurricane Audrey slams into Texas, Louisiana,
and Mississippi; 550 die.
1959 - Typhoon Vera strikes Nagoya, Japan; 5,000 die.
1960 - Earthquake strikes Agadir, Morocco; 12,000 die.
1960 - Cyclones strike Bay of Bengal, India; 10,000 die.
1962 - Avalanche hits Ranrahirca, Peru; 450 die.
1962 - Earthquake strikes western Iran; 10,000 die.
1963 - Cyclone strikes East Pakistan; 22,000 die.
1963 - Hurricane Flora hits Haiti and Cuba; 6,000 die.
1963 - Avalanche falls into a lake behind a dam in the
Piave River Basin in Italy; 2,000 killed by a resulting
torrent of water.
1964 - Alaska earthquake; 118 die.
1965 - 35 Midwest tornadoes; 271 die.
1966 - Avalanche hits schoolhouse at Aberfan, Wales;
one of the children recalls "We were laughing and playing . . .
waiting for the teacher to call the register"; 116 children
and 29 adults die . . . the children were finally buried in a
mass grave marked by a one-hundred foot cross.
1967-1969 - An attempt to secede from Nigeria led to
civil war and a severe famine; an estimated 1.5 million
1967 - Brussels department store fire; 322 die.
1967 - Freak rainstorm hits Lisbon; more than 450 die.
1968 - Iranian earthquake; thousands injured, 12,000 die.
1969 - One of the South's most devastating hurricanes,
Camille slams into Gulfport, Mississippi, on August 17.
1970 - May 31, earthquake strikes northern Peru; Chim-
bote, a coastal city, was almost completely destroyed;
on Mount Huascaran, an avalanche of ice and rock
crashed into a lake, spawning a new avalanche of mud
and rock that then poured down over the resort town
of Yungay - the city was so completely buried that
only the tops of palm trees and a statue of Jesus could
be seen - incredibly, all but some 3,000 of the city's
41,000 were killed in the seconds it took the avalanche
to sweep through the city; altogether, between 50,000
and 70,000 die.
1970 - A deadly cyclone and 50-foot tidal wave struck
the unprepared Ganges River Delta of East Pakistan (now
Bangladesh) on November 12, in one of the worst disas-
ters of modern times; the staggering death toll could only
be approximated, between 300,000 and 500,000 die.
1971 - North Vietnam floods; over 100,000 die.
1971 - Korean hotel fire kills 162 people.
1971 - Logan County, West Virginia flood kills 107
1972 - Explosion of unknown origins in Rhodesian coal
mine kills over 400 people.
1972 - Hurricane Agnes ravages U.S. east coast from
Florida up to New York; 118 die.
1972 - Managua, Nicaragua earthquake; estimated death
toll of 10,000 people.
1974 - Deadly storm spawns over 148 tornadoes in the
U.S. south and midwest April 3-4; 315 die.
1974 - Hurricane Fifi ravages Honduras September 19-20;
about 50,000 die.
1976 - Guatemalan earthquake, February 4; an estimated
}} 1976 - From page 42 ... "The terrible earthquake that
}} hit northeast China on July 28, 1976 was the most
}} disastrous in modern times. It was focused directly
}} under the industrial city of Tangshan, which was
}} almost completely destroyed by a massive tremor
}} that measured 8.3 on the Richter Scale.
}} The massive jolt struck suddenly and was responsible
}} for the deaths of one tenth of Tangshan's population.
}} It also caused severe damage well beyond the city.
}} In total, more than 240,000 died and 164,000 were
}} severely injured ..."
1977 - In heavy fog and rain, at Tenerife, Canary Islands,
in double the normal traffic due to aircraft being diverted
because of a terrorist bomb planted by a Canary Islands
separatist group, two 747s collide in the worst disaster
in aviation history; 583 die.
1977 - Kentucky nightclub fire kills 164 people.
1978 - Earthquake in northeastern Iran; an estimated
1979 - Hurricane David sweeps over the Dominican
Republic, Puerto Rico, and the southeastern U.S.;
an estimated 2,000 die.
1980 - Explosion of Mount Saint Helens in the state of
Washington, a volcano located 40 miles north of Portland,
Oregon, unleashes a force 500 times more powerful than
the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the equal of the
eruption that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79; 60 die.
1980 - Southern Italy earthquakes; 5,000 die.
}} 1981-1985 - From page 82 ... "Drought, Africa, - A
}} four year drought - Over half of Ethiopia was devastated
}} by the drought. When crops failed for the second year
}} running, 50,000 farmers flocked to the cities to sell their
}} possessions for food. After two more years without rain,
}} millions were starving. ... It is estimated that at the height
}} of the famine more than 20,000 children were dying each
}} month." [estimated that two million people starved to death
}} throughout sub-Saharan Africa.]
}} 1981-present - From page 121 ... "The global spread of
}} AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) has ter-
}} rified a world that thought that modern medicine had
}} conquered disease epidemics. By 1997, about 30 mil-
}} lion people had become infected with HIV, the virus that
}} causes AIDS; and, in the United States alone, more than
}} 350,000 people had died of the disease."
1983 - Egyptian riverboat, the '10th of Ramadan', catches
fire; 357 die.
1985 - Bangladesh hurricane kills an estimated 10,000.
1985 - Dam bursts in Northern Italy on July 19; over 200
1985 - Mexico City earthquake on September 19; over
}} 1985 - From page 20 ... "An eruption of the remote
}} Nevado del Ruiz volcano on November 13, 1985
}} caused the second deadliest volcanic tragedy of the
}} twentieth century. The heat of ash and gases released
}} during the eruption melted a large section of the moun-
}} tain's ice cap. The water surged down the mountain
}} carrying tons of ash, and within minutes it became a
}} cascade of sticky mud known as a lahar. One of these
}} lahars burst out of a canyon upstream of Armero, send-
}} ing a 130-foot high wave of mud churning toward the
}} town. About 21,000 people were killed in Armero, along
}} with over 1,000 others in neighboring villages."
1988 - Armenia earthquake on December 8; an estimated
1990 - Earthquake ravages area along the Caspian Sea,
on June 21; more than 50,000 die.
1991 - In a thick fog, an Italian ferry collides with a tanker;
}} 1991 - From page 71 ... "Bangladesh is one of the
}} poorest and most densely populated countries in the
}} world, and much of it is made up of a vast delta cre-
}} ated by the Ganges and other powerful rivers which
}} flow down from the Himalayas. The low-lying delta
}} is prone to major river floods, but the greatest loss
}} of life occurs during tropical cyclones.
}} One such storm, known as Cyclone 2B, struck the
}} Bangladesh coast on April 29, 1991, bringing with
}} it 146 mph winds and a lethal 20 foot high storm
}} surge. About 140,000 people died when ferocious
}} waves submerged exposed coasts and islands in
}} the mouth of the delta."
- - -
For further details:
Nine Days That Shook the World
"Some of the workings of our natural world
follow. Excerpts/links from disaster articles/
compilation by New Scientist magazine, orig-
inally posted in 1999 during the "pre-millen-
nium scare" period in the months leading up
to that supposedly providentially significant
transition to the year 2000..."
- - -