10 of the world’s costliest natural disasters

The governments around the world have faced massive hits and have spent in numbers so huge in order to cover up for when the Mother Earth did not grant us its mercy. Here are ten of the world’s costliest Natural Disasters in an ascending order of the economic loss they caused.

10. Colombia’s Armero Tragedy (1985) – $7 Billion

(Source- TeleSur TV)

The disaster which was one of the major consequences of the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in Tolima, Colombia, on November 13 took place after 69 years of dormancy of the volcano. The eruption took place causing a lot of damage to the town nearby. Apparently so, the Government of Colombia had received warnings the Volcanological organizations to evacuate the area because an activity was detected in September 1985. The lava erupted from the volcano, completely melting the mountain’s glaciers, yearling volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows at 50 kilometres per hour. The entire town of Armero became a victim where 20,000 of its almost 29,000 inhabitants were killed.

9. China’s River Floods (1998) – $26 Billion

(Source- Lewis and Clark)

During the summer of 1998, extremely severe floodings including those of the Yangtze River, the Nen River, the Songhua River and the Pearl River as a result of unending torrential rains took place in China. The series of floods was considered as the worst that Northern China faced in about 40 years. As a consequence, 3,704 people died; 15 million were rendered homeless and $24 billion was reported as a direct economic loss.

8. China Sichuan Earthquake (2008) – $29 Billion

(Source- The Telegraph)

Another one from China, this one took place in the morning hours of May 12 when the Ngawa Prefecture in China was shaken by an earthquake of 8.0 that left nothing but piles of rubbish. Due to the quake, almost 70,000 people lost life and another 19,000 went missing. The earthquake was felt up to 1,000 miles away in both Beijing and Shanghai with several aftershocks measuring up to magnitudes of 6.0. $29 Billion was actually just an immediate loss. The deadliest hit for China ever since 1950, this forced the Chinese government to spend about $146 billion over the next three years as per the recovery efforts.

7. Japan’s Chuetsu Earthquake (2004) – $34 Billion

(Source- Wikimedia Commons)

Back in 2004, an earthquake measuring 6.8 suddenly hit out throughout the Hokuriku region of Honshu, Japan, which is also the nation’s largest island. The first quake lasted for a good sixteen minutes and the people liked to believe that it would subside. However, the second and the third quake also occurred which lasted for 90 minutes. As for the human loss, forty people lost lives and economically, the direct damages cost $30 billion. Later on, the makers of Pokémon were not allowed to even air an episode showing a massive earthquake as it was supposed to hurt the sentiments of the people.

6. California’s North-ridge Earthquake (1994) – $42 Billion

(Source- Cochise College)

Though 6.7 is a relatively less intensity for an earthquake to talk of, the one that took place in California caused damages just as bad as that of an eight pointer. The fatality of the quake even affected the areas of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley due to the location of its epicentre. The quake that took place in 2004 lasted only 10-20 seconds but resulted in more than 60 deaths and about 5,000 injuries. 25,000 people were left homeless and $25 billion was estimated as a direct loss.

5. Gulf of Mexicos’ Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010) – $40 to $60 Billion

(Source-Encyclopedia Britannica)

As for this disaster, only the total cleanup costs can be estimated to a high of $60billion but the actual loss cannot really be determined. The spill had a ripple effect throughout the U.S.casuing giants along the coast suffer to great lengths. Tourists did not venture into the area for a long time and even the fishermen were unable to work their normal fishing grounds. Eleven people lost their life due to the spill apart from some severe damage to the wildlife and environment around the Gulf. Initially, $41 billion was spent in order to cover the cleanup costs and for the fines and compensation to damaged victims or families thereof. The amount of oil that was lost is also in dispute.

4. North American Drought (1988) – $78 Billion 

(Source- AIR Worldwide)

Soon after the traumatising drought of 1980, another major disaster of the same kind took place in 1988. The United States had to deal with a multi-year and multi-billion-dollar drought. Until the end of the painful scarcity, the schools and a lot of offices were shut due to the intolerable dust that blew in the cities and throughout the country. The heat waves of 1988 and 1989 killed a whopping 10,000 people and set thousands of acres of land on fire. Until the Hurricane Katrina, this drought was recorded as the most expensive natural disaster in US history.

3. Japan’s Great Hanshin Earthquake (1995) – $102 Billion

(Source- Tele Sur TV)

The famously known as the Kobe earthquake that took place on January 17 of 1995 in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale. The tremors of this quake lasted for 20 seconds and the focus of the earthquake was located 17 km beneath its epicentre, on an island twenty kilometre away from Kobe. A number of people as great as 6,434 lost their lives. This particular earthquake is counted as Japan’s worst earthquake in the 20th century after the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923 that took 105,000 lives.

2. United States’ Hurricane Katrina (2005 ) – $108 Billion

(Source- Grist)

The costliest disaster of the United States, Hurricane Katrina is also one of the deadliest in history, causing 1,833 confirmed deaths and $108 billion in damages. This hurricane which is categorised fifth actually began as a category one in the Bahamas but picked up its speed as it moved closer to the US and entered the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from the shivering scary storm that it caused, it was also a reason for hundreds and thousands of people to die and lose lives due to flooding and inadequate preparation. The most of the impact was witnessed in New Orleans, Louisiana. As for the silver lining though, due to this very storm, a change in the competency and functioning of the United States governmental agencies was undertaken as they completely revamped due to the past fatal failures.

1. Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami (2011) – $325 Billion

(Source- The Atlantic)

This earthquake of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake literally shook the country right to its very core. The number of deaths recorded was sixteen thousand but sadly so, five thousand people are missing even today. In terms of artificial and man made items, substantial other losses took place like that of the destruction of homes, infrastructure and businesses. It is not just the $325 billion that was lost; a ripple effect on the country’s tourist industry due to the nuclear fallout to the water and food supplies caused recovery a far fetched dream in those days. Not limiting itself, the impact spread across the Pacific, right to the assembly plants located in the U.S. and other countries.