Yangtze River Flood (1931)

Tokyo-Yokohama Earthquake (1923)

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These six natural disasters destroyed cities and wiped out communities around the world

Tokyo-Yokohama Earthquake (1923)

Tokyo-Yokohama earthquake of 1923Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area about noon on September 1, 1923. The death toll from the temblor was estimated to have exceeded 140,000. Most of those deaths were caused by subsequent widespread fires. Many hundreds of thousands of houses were either shaken down or burned, and the shock generated a tsunami that reached a height of 39.5 feet (12 metres) at the city of Atami, on the Sagami Gulf. The earthquake and its aftermath destroyed the largest commercial center of Japan and traumatized the nation for decades.

  • Kashmir Earthquake (2005)

Kashmir earthquake, 2005Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
On October 8, 2005, a disastrous earthquake struck the Pakistan-administered portion of the Kashmir region, the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, and adjacent parts of India and Afghanistan. The earthquake was measured at a magnitude of 7.6, and the relief effort for the survivors was hampered by numerous aftershocks, ensuing landslides, and falling rocks. The severity of the damage and the high number of fatalities were exacerbated by poor construction in the affected areas. In Kashmir at least 79,000 people were killed, and more than 32,000 buildings collapsed.

  • Great Galveston Storm (1900)

Galveston hurricane, 1900Archive Photo/Getty Images
The Great Galveston Storm occurred on September 8, 1900, when a hurricane with an estimated strength of Category 4 hit Galveston, Texas. This hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, as well as the worst hurricane in U.S. history. More than 8,000 people were killed, and 10,000 were left homeless. The hurricane decimated Galveston, which at the time was one of the most advanced cities in Texas. The hurricane had an estimated tidal surge of 15 feet (4.5 meters), while the barrier island of Galveston was only 5 feet (1.5 meters) above sea level. It struck without much warning, as storm forecasting at the time lacked the advanced technology necessary to accurately predict the enormous physical and human toll the hurricane would take.
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