10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 90s

10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 90s

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Mother Earth was angry in the 90s. For this list, we're looking at the most devastating and deadly storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides, heat waves and other natural phenomena the planet experienced from 1990 to 1999. Our countdown includes Tropical Storm Linda, Hurricane Mitch, 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone, and more!

10 Worst Natural Disasters of the 90s

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re taking a look at 10 of the worst natural disasters of the 90s.

For this list, we’re looking at the most devastating and deadly storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides, heat waves and other natural phenomena the planet experienced from 1990 to 1999.

Let us know in the comments which of these events you’ll always remember.

#10: Tropical Storm Linda

This typhoon swept out from the South China Sea and raged through southern Vietnam in November 1997, leaving a trail of ruined homes, crops, and infrastructure. The worst typhoon to hit the area in at least a century, Linda reached wind speeds of 75 miles per hour and carried on into Thailand, only blowing out once it crossed over into the Bay of Bengal. In Vietnam alone, Tropical Storm Linda caused $385 million in damages and 3,100 deaths. It also resulted in the deaths of 164 people in Thailand, including 152 fishermen who were out at sea.

#9: 1998 China Floods

The summer of 1998 was a catastrophic one for flooding. In low-lying Bangladesh, three quarters of the country was left underwater after heavy rainfall, leaving 30 million homeless and over one thousand dead. That same summer in China, the Yangtze River broke its banks and flooded an even larger area, killing at least 3,700 people. Water from the deluge flowed into villages and towns, destroying millions of homes and causing billions of dollars in damage. Flooding from the Nen, Songhua, and Pearl Rivers added to the mayhem.

#8: The Great Hanshin Earthquake

One of Japan’s biggest, most populated cities, Kobe was struck by a powerful earthquake in 1995. Japan is a country prone to seismic activity, but even so the damage and death caused by the Great Hanshin Earthquake was unprecedented. In the twenty-second event, much of Kobe’s infrastructure was decimated, with an entire freeway collapsing and 400,000 buildings destroyed. Most devastating, however, was the more than 6,000 lives lost in the disaster. Many more were displaced and made homeless, while the cost to repair the damage was around $200 billion. The disaster prompted the government to develop new earthquake policies, while in the immediate aftermath, over a million volunteers – including the yakuza – helped with the relief effort.

#7: 1993 Latur Earthquake

In the early hours of September 30th, 1993, the Indian state of Maharashtra was shaken by a high magnitude earthquake. The location worst affected was the city of Latur. It was all the more intense because the quake itself was relatively shallow, causing larger, stronger tremors. Almost 10,000 people were killed in the disaster and many more displaced. In the years since, India has vastly improved its ability to monitor earthquakes and seismic activity so that any future earthquakes can be managed more effectively. Nonetheless, even decades later, many people in the region are still living with the weight of what was lost that day.

#6: 1999 Odisha Cyclone

In late October 1999, a deadly tropical cyclone struck India’s eastern coast, battering the state of Odisha with 160 miles-per-hour winds. It was the most intense cyclone to strike the North Indian Ocean in history, reaching category 5 and generating a massive storm surge that swept 20 miles inland. Combined with the heavy rain, the surge led to widespread flooding that damaged 1.6 million homes, destroyed crops and livestock, and took the lives of nearly 9,900 people. Though the vast majority of deaths were in India, the cyclone also caused fatalities in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

#5: Hurricane Mitch

This category 5 hurricane was one of the deadliest ever recorded, second only to the Great Hurricane of 1780 that devastated the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Mitch struck Central America in late October, 1998. Honduras and Nicaragua got the worst of it, but the hurricane spread far enough north-east to affect not only parts of Florida, but the British Isles on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Though the Honduran Air Force undertook a valiant rescue mission, airlifting many people to safety, approximately. 11,000 people (7,000 of them in Honduras), lost their lives. Many of these deaths were the result of catastrophic mudslides. Infrastructure was annihilated across Central America, with millions of people left homeless, and without food or fresh water.

#4: 1999 İzmit Earthquake

With its epicenter just a few miles from the city of İzmit, this earthquake devastated northwestern Turkey in August, 1999. The tremors were felt throughout the country, with much of the destruction occurring in İzmit, as well as Istanbul, the nation’s largest city. The earthquake caused a staggering 17,000 deaths. It was followed by a tsunami that killed 155 people. There were also severe aftershocks, and a dangerous fire broke out at an oil refinery. Greece, which has historically had a difficult relationship with Turkey, sent aid across the border. A month later, when the Greek city of Athens was hit by an earthquake, Turkey reciprocated in kind.

#3: The Vargas Tragedy

After weathering torrential rainfall from successive storms in December 1999, Venezuela experienced its worst disaster in recorded history. The sheer volume of rain destabilized the land and caused enormous mudslides, killing anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 people; the exact death toll still isn’t known. 60 miles of Venezuelan coastline, close to the capital city of Caracas, was destroyed. A huge relief effort was undertaken, with Venezuelan celebrities raising money for aid, and even the United States offering to help. Over ten years after the disaster, however, there were still people living in the coastal ruins that had been buried, yet to be rebuilt.

#2: The Manjil-Rudbar Earthquake

In June of 1990, Iran was hit by a devastating earthquake. Its capital Tehran experienced catastrophic damage and tens of thousands of people were killed. It’s estimated that between 35,000 to 45,000 lost their lives to the quake, which had a magnitude of 7.4. But while much of Tehran suffered serious damage, the nearby cities Manjil and Rudbar, along with around 700 villages, were utterly destroyed by the disaster. Thousands more were injured and up to 400,000 people found themselves homeless in the aftermath. Many individuals tragically died in the rubble before help could reach them due to the fact that so many roads were destroyed.

#1: 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone

Making landfall in Bangladesh in April 1991, this tropical cyclone was one of the deadliest in history. With winds of up to 160 miles per hour, it whipped up a 20-foot storm surge that devastated the country’s coastline, causing $1.7 billion in damage and killing close to 139,000 people. And this incomprehensible loss of life occurred despite an evacuation effort that saw as many as three million people leave the coast. In response to the disaster, the US spearheaded “Operation Sea Angel”, diverting ships and soldiers to Bangladesh, in a historic military relief effort that saved thousands of lives.
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