natural disaster

  • 79

    Mt Vesuvius

    Mt Vesuvius
    Mt Vesuvius has erupted several times in human history, however, the terrifying eruption of 79AD is the most well-known. On 24 August, Vesuvius erupted ash, mud, and toxic gases, completely burying the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • 450


    The first known eruption of Ilopango in 450 AD is the second-largest volcanic eruption in the last 200,000 years. This eruption was so large that it is thought to have destroyed several Mayan cities. The skies were filled with ash and dust for more than a year.
  • Aug 20, 1498

    Enshunada Sea, Japan

    Enshunada Sea, Japan
    An earthquake, estimated to have been at least magnitude 8.3, caused tsunami waves along the coasts of Kii, Mikawa, Surugu, Izu, and Sagami. The waves were powerful enough to breach a spit, which had previously separated Lake Hamana from the sea. There were reports of homes flooding and being swept away throughout the region, with a total of at least 31,000 people killed.
  • Nankaido, Japan

    Nankaido, Japan
    A magnitude 8.4 earthquake caused sea waves as high as 25 m to hammer into the Pacific coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu. Osaka was also damaged. A total of nearly 30,000 buildings were damaged in the affected regions and about 30,000 people were killed.
  • Ryuku Islands, Japan

    Ryuku Islands, Japan
    A magnitude 7.4 earthquake is believed to have caused a tsunami that damaged a large number of islands in the region; however, the most serious damage was restricted to Ishigaki and Miyako Islands. It is commonly cited that the waves that struck Ishigaki Island were 85.4 m high, but it appears this is due to a confusion of the original Japanese measurements, and is more accurately estimated to have been around 11 to 15 m high.
  • Lisbon, Portugal

    Lisbon, Portugal
    A magnitude 8.5 earthquake caused a series of three huge waves to strike various towns along the west coast of Portugal and southern Spain, up to 30 m high, in some places. The tsunami affected waves as far away as Carlisle Bay, Barbados, where waves were said to rise by 1.5 m. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami killed 60,000 in Portugal, Morocco, and Spain.
  • Laki, Iceland

     Laki, Iceland
    The devastation of the Laki eruption was felt globally for years after the event. The Laki eruption lasted for 8 months, emitting about 14.7 km3 of lava. Toxic gases poisoned crops and killed 60 percent of Iceland’s grazing livestock. The volcano released enough SO2 to cause acid rain and global temperatures to drop. The eruption resulted in a famine that killed over 10,000 Icelandic people, roughly a quarter of the country’s population at the time.
  • Mt Unzen, Japan

    Mt Unzen, Japan
    The explosion of Mt. Unzen remains Japan’s deadliest volcanic eruption. The explosion collapsed the dome of the volcano, generating a massive landslide that buried the city of Shimabara and flowed into the ocean, triggering a tsunami 57m high. The catastrophe killed about 15,000 people. The cost of damages to agriculture and fish facilities was estimated at $17.4 billion yen (roughly $150 million).
  • Northern Chile

     Northern Chile
    This tsunami event was caused by a series of two significant earthquakes, estimated at a magnitude of 8.5, off the coast of Arica, Peru (now Chile). The ensuing waves affected the entire Pacific Rim, with waves reported to be up to 21 m high, which lasted between two and three days.
  • Off the coast of Ecuador

    Off the coast of Ecuador
    On Jan. 31, 1906, a catastrophic magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit off the coast of Ecuador and Colombia and generated a strong tsunami that killed 500 to 1,500 people. The tsunami spread along the coast of Central America, and even lapped at the shorelines in San Francisco and Japan.
  • Atacama, Chile

    Atacama, Chile
    On Nov. 11, 1922, a massive magnitude 8.5 quake struck the Atacama Desert on the border of Argentina and Chile. Even though the epicenter of the earthquake was beneath land, the shaking was so strong that it triggered a tsunami that killed hundreds of people, according to news reports at the time.
  • Near Kamchatka Peninsula

    Near Kamchatka Peninsula
    Relatively little is known about the magnitude 8.4 quake that struck off the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia, on Feb. 3, 1923. The sparsely populated area of the Russian Far East sits near the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, where the Pacific Plate is diving beneath the Okhotsk Plate, a teensy plate that was once thought to be part of the North American Plate.
  • Sanriku-Oki, Japan

    Sanriku-Oki, Japan
    A magnitude 8.4 quake struck near the Sanriku region of Japan on March 2, 1933, according to the USGS. The quake occurred about 180 miles (290 kilometers) offshore of Honshu, Japan.
  • Banda Sea, Indonesia

    Banda Sea, Indonesia
    On Feb. 1, 1938, a magnitude 8.5 quake rocked the seafloor about 88 miles (141 km) northwest of Tual, Indonesia. Despite the strength of this temblor, the damage was fairly minor.
  • Unimak Island

    Unimak Island
    A magnitude 8.6 quake struck Unimak Island on April 1, 1946. Despite its large size, the quake did not destroy any buildings. However, it triggered a 115-foot-high (35 m) tsunami that swept away a lighthouse, along with its five occupants, according to the USGS.
  • Assam-Tibet

    At least 1,500 people died across eastern Tibet and Assam, India, when this temblor shook the region on Aug. 15, 1950. Ground cracks, large landslides, and sand volcanoes struck the area. The quake was felt in China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, and as far away as Kolkata, India.
  • Andreanof Islands

    Andreanof Islands
    The quake that struck off of the Andreanof Islands, part of the Aleutian Islands, on March 9, 1957, registered a magnitude of 8.6. The quake occurred about 53 miles (86 km) southeast of Adak, Alaska, a tiny village of a few hundred people and the state's southernmost town.