We sometimes forget how powerful nature can be. That can be a very costly lapse. Nature is not only very powerful it can also be very destructive. There is nothing man-made that can withstand the force of nature. This is shown by natural disasters that have taken place in recent years.
The Worst Natural Disasters in Modern Times
A lot of people are killed every year because of natural disasters . Here is a list of some of the worst that have struck in recent years.
Indian Ocean Tsunami
An earthquake does not have to happen on land in order to be destructive. If it takes place underneath the ocean then it can also cause havoc. That is exactly what happened on December 6, 2004 when a very strong earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. That earthquake was measured at 9.1 Magnitude and is considered to be the third largest quake to have ever been measured. It was also the longest in history. It is said that the shaking could be felt for a full eight minutes.
Because the earthquake’s center was beneath the sea, it caused a tsunami. According to experts, it was the strongest tsunami in history and it did leave a wave of destruction to prove that. The tsunami affected more than 14 countries and killed more than 230,000 people. It displaced more than a million people in the countries that were affected.
As a result of the tsunami, efforts have been made to create an early warning system that would prevent a similar disaster from happening in the future.
The Sichuan earthquake which struck in 2008 killed more than 60,000 people, but even that pales in comparison with the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. The official death toll for that earthquake is at 255,000 but there is reason to believe that the number could be a lot higher than that. Some estimates even place the number to be as high as 655,000. The quake is the second most powerful earthquake in recorded history. It was measured at 7.5 magnitude and it did not stopped at that. There were also some very powerful aftershocks that caused additional damages.
The Tangshan Earthquake started the period of intense monitoring of seismic activity both in China and in the West.
1970 Bhola Cyclone
On November11, 1970 a cyclone struck East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh and West Bengal in India. It is the deadliest tropical cyclone in recorded history and one of the deadliest natural disasters ever. Getting an exact count of the number of people who perished because of the storm is impossible but estimates place it at up to 500,000. The high death count is attributed to the flooding caused by the storm surge.
The storm formed over the Bay of Bengal on November 8 and Indian authorities were notified by some ships out at sea about the storm. But Indian and Pakistani relations were particularly bad at that time so no notification was given to the Pakistani authorities in East Pakistan. The local population was given enough warning about the approaching storm but only a very small percentage evacuated to safer grounds. That’s why when the cyclone struck, many were still in their vulnerable homes.
Pakistani authorities were also criticized for the way that they handled the disaster. Many felt that they did not do enough to help the affected areas. There was only one helicopter assigned to the whole relief effort. Many people were dissatisfied with the Pakistani government which in turn led to the Bangladesh Liberation War which ended with the creation of the nation of Bangladesh.
On January 12, 2010 an earthquake occurred in the town of Léogâne which is located in Haiti. The quake was magnitude 7.0. Though the quake is not considered to be one of the strongest to be recorded, it caused a great deal of damage in Haiti. It left thousands of people dead. The official death toll from the Haitian government sets the figure to be as high as 316,000, but this is disputed by experts saying that the Haitian government has intentionally inflated it. Foreign experts place the death toll between 100,000 to 159,000.
The strong quake was made worse by the fact that many of the buildings in Haiti were substandard and not built to withstand strong earthquakes. Thousands of residential and commercial buildings collapsed because of the quake. Haiti is made even more vulnerable to major natural disasters because it is one of the poorest countries in the world. It does not have the capability to cope with a major disaster, but problems were even made more complicated by the fact that the infrastructure that was necessary for responding properly to the quake was damaged or completely destroyed.
Communications, transportation, education and other essential services were severely affected by the Haiti quake. In other words, the whole country was devastated by it. Even years after the quake a great number of people are still living in makeshift dwellings that were supposed to be temporary. Billions of dollars in aid was promised but there is little to show for it.
Yellow River Flood
The Yellow River in China is prone to flooding because of the plat area that surrounds it. In 1887, the river flooded which resulted in the death of 900,000 to 2,000,000 million people. The people living along the river have been building dikes for centuries to contain the flooding, but the heavy rains in 1887 caused the water to rise higher than the dikes.
But the death toll in the 1887 flooding pales in comparison with the death toll from the flooding that occurred in 1931. The exact number could never be known and estimates vary widely and it is placed from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000. This places this as one of the deadliest natural disasters in known history. An area comprised of 88,000 sq. km was totally flooded for several months. Experts believe that the death toll for this disaster could not have been surpassed by others that have not been recorded.
On August 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Golf Coast. The city of New Orleans was the most heavily damaged by it. It left more than 1,000 people dead. That death toll might seem small as compared to the other disasters that are on this list, but when you consider the fact that it happened in the U.S. that means something. With all the resources and capability of the United States government the death toll was still that high, imagine what it would have been if a storm that strong have struck a more vulnerable country.
The cost of the damage caused by Katrina was staggering. Insurance costs alone were placed at $30 billion. The New Orleans area is still recovering from the blow.
Preparing for Natural Disasters
There is no way that we can prevent natural disasters from happening. No matter what we do nature will take its course. The best that we can do is to be ready and prepared to handle any disaster that might strike. It is harder to prepare for some natural disasters than others. It is impossible to predict when an earthquake would strike for example, but hurricanes and storms can be seen well before they strike land. People can prepare for those.
But even in the case of natural disasters that cannot be predicted, there are ways that people can prepare for those. In areas were earthquakes are common for example the people can build houses and buildings that are designed to withstand strong quakes. People can also prepare in case of disasters by conducting regular drills that will keep everyone informed of what they have to do in cases of emergency.
How You Can Prepare
You can prepare for natural disaster on your own. You can make sure that you have an emergency kit for example. The kit can contain the following.
- First aid kit and medicines.
- Food that is canned or preserved.
- Drinking water to last for 72 hours.
- Transistor radios with batteries.
You can include anything in your kit that you think you might need in cases of emergencies. Place the kit in a bag or anything that you can carry with ease in case there is a natural disaster.
It is important that you are aware of what are the possible hazards that you could face in the area that you are living in. Your response and plan should be based on the kind of disaster that you might have to face. In cases of flooding for example, you would need a different kind of response. You need to be familiar with the challenges that you are going to face in the area that you are living and make up a plan based on that.
Being ready is the key in surviving any kind of natural disaster. That and respecting that nature is far more powerful than humans.