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Toba catastrophe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Toba catastrophe was the largest volcanic eruption in the last 2.6 million years. It is called a catastrophe because its effects may have damaged the human species.

The eruption[change | change source]

Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia, is the site of a supervolcanic eruption that occurred 73,000 (±4000 years) years ago.[1][2][3][4] It was a climate-changing event. The eruption was two orders of magnitude (= x100) larger than the largest known historic eruption, that of Tambora, also in Indonesia.[2]

This eruption was the last and largest of four eruptions of Toba during the Quaternary epoch. It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as "apocalyptic"). It made a sizable contribution to the 100x30 km caldera complex. The mass it threw out was 100 times greater than the largest volcanic eruption in recent history. That was the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 "Year Without a Summer" in the northern hemisphere.[5]

Consequences[change | change source]

The eruption of Toba led to a volcanic winter with a worldwide decline in temperatures between 3-5 degrees C, and up to 15 degrees C in higher latitudes.[6]

Effect on humans[change | change source]

According to the Toba catastrophe theory,it had global consequences, killing most humans then alive and creating a population bottleneck in Central Eastern Africa and India that affected the genetic inheritance of all humans today.[6][7]

According to the theory, only 10,000 (perhaps only 1,000) pairs of humans survived the disaster. Perhaps it led to the other hominids becoming extinct, though the Neanderthals certainly survived in Europe andEurasia.

1931 China floods

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1931 Central China floods or the Central China floods of 1931 were a series of floods that occurred in the Republic of China. The floods are generally considered among the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded, and almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century (when pandemics and famines are discounted).[2] Estimates of the total death toll range from 145,000[1] to between 3.7 million and 4 million.[3][4][5]

Meteorological causes[edit]

From 1928 to 1930, a long drought afflicted China.[4] By some accounts, abnormal weather over central China began in the winter of late 1930. Heavy snowstorms in the winter were followed by a spring thaw and heavy rains that raised river levels significantly. The rain grew heavier in July and August 1931.[2] 1931 was also characterized by extreme cyclone activity—in July of that year alone, nine cyclones hit the region, whereas on average only two occur per year.[2]

Death toll and damage[edit]

Chinese sources usually indicate the death toll of the Yangtze River overflow at about 145,000, with flood damage affecting around 28.5 million,[1] while most Western sources give a far higher death toll of between 3.7 and 4 million people.[2][3][4]

The Yangtze and Huai River floods soon reached Nanjing, the capital of China at the time. The city, located on an island in a massive flood zone, suffered catastrophic damage.[2] Millions died of drowning or from waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhus. Wives and daughters were sold by desperate residents, and cases of infanticide and even cannibalism were reported in stark details to the government.[2] Some of the areas affected included Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi,Wuhan,and Chongqing. The high-water mark was reached on 19 August at Hankou, Wuhan, with the water level exceeding 53 ft (16 m) above normal. Comparatively, this is an average of 5.6 ft (1.7 m) above the Shanghai Bund.[2][6] On the evening of 25 August 1931, the water rushing through the Grand Canal washed away dikes near Gaoyou Lake. Some 200,000 people drowned in their sleep in the resulting deluge.[2]

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami was an 9.0-magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami waves.[2] It was measured at 8.4 on the JMA seismic intensity scale[3][4] The earthquake happened 130 kilometres (81 mi) off Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, on the east coast of the Tōhoku of Japan, on March 11, 2011 at 05:46:23 UTC. It was at a depth of 24.4 km (15.2 miles).[5] It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history.[6] It was also the fifth most powerful earthquake on Earth since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

On 8 November 2013, the Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,883 deaths, 6,150 injured, and 2,651 people missing.[7]

Effects[change | change source]

Deaths–Injured–Missing[change | change source]

The Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed 15,883 deaths, 6,150 injured, and 2,651 people missing across 18 prefectures, as well as over 126,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.[7]

Nuclear disaster[change | change source]

The Fukushima nuclear disaster began on March 11 2011, just hours after the initial wave.[22][23] The connection to the electrical grid was broken. All power for cooling was lost and reactors started to overheat. There was a partial core meltdown in reactors 1, 2, and 3; hydrogen explosions destroyed the upper part of the buildings housing reactors 1, 3, and 4; an explosion damaged the containment inside reactor 2; fires broke out at reactor 4. Despite being initially shutdown, reactors 5 and 6 began to overheat. Spent nuclear fuel rods stored in pools in each reactor building overheated as water levels in the pools dropped. The accident is the second biggestnuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as all reactors are involved.[24]

There were 4.4 million households that had their electricity supply cut off, including 11 nuclear power plants.[25]

Second Congo War

The Second Congo War (also known as the Great War of Africa or the Great African War, and sometimes referred to as the African World War) began in August 1998, little more than a year after the First Congo War and involving some of the same issues, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. However, hostilities have continued since then in the ongoing Lord's Resistance Army insurgency, and the Kivu and Ituri conflicts.

The deadliest war in modern African history, it has directly involved nine African countries, as well as about 20 armed groups. By 2008, the war and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation,[7] making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.[8] Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighbouring countries.[9]

Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, 1,000 people died daily in 2004 from easily preventable cases of malnutrition and disease.[10] The war and the conflicts afterwards, including the Kivu and Ituri conflicts, were driven by, among other things, the trade in conflict minerals.[11][12]

North Korean famine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The North Korean famine, which together with the accompanying general economic crisis are known as the Arduous March (Hangul: 북한기근; Chosŏn'gŭl: 고난의 행군) in North Korea, occurred in North Korea from 1994 to 1998.[5]

The famine stemmed from a variety of factors. Economic mismanagement and the loss of Soviet support caused food production and imports to decline rapidly. A series of floods and droughts exacerbated the crisis, but were not its direct cause. The North Korean government and its centrally-planned system proved too inflexible to effectively curtail the disaster. Estimates of the death toll vary widely. Out of a total population of approximately 22 million, somewhere between 240,000 and 3,500,000 North Koreans died from starvation or hunger-related illnesses, with the deaths peaking in 1997.[6][7] Recent research suggests the likely range of excess deaths between 1993 and 2000 was between 500,000 and 600,000.[8]

Though the worst of the famine has since passed, North Korea still relies heavily on foreign aid and has not resumed food self-sufficiency. Bouts of food shortage continue to occur, and malnutrition is still widespread.

"The Spanish flu"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Influenza pandemic of 1918 was a heavy pandemic of influenza. It lasted from January 1918 to December 1920.[1] About 500 million[2] people were infected across the world. The pandemic spread to remote Pacific islands and the Arctic. It killed 50[3] to 100 million people—3 to 5 percent of the world's population[4] at the time.This means it was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.[2][5][6][7]To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States;[8][9] but papers were free to report the epidemic's effects in neutral Spain (such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII). This situaton created the false impression of Spain being especially hard hit.[10] It also resulted in the nickname Spanish flu.[11]

In most cases, influenza outbreaks kill young people, or the elderly, or those patients that are already weakened. This was not the case for the 1918 pandemic, which killed predominantly healthy young adults. Modern research, using virus taken from the bodies of frozen victims, has concluded that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body's immune system). The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.[12]

Historical and epidemiological data are insufficient to identify the pandemic's geographic origin.[2] The pandemic was implicated in the outbreak of encephalitis lethargica in the 1920s.[13]

Ancash earthquake and avalanche

The 1970 Ancash earthquake (also known as the Great Peruvian earthquake) occurred on May 31 off the coast of Peru in the Pacific Ocean at 15:23:29 local time. Combined with a resultant landslide, it was the worst catastrophic natural disaster ever recorded in the history of Peru. Due to the large amounts of snow and ice included in the landslide and its estimated 66,794 to 70,000 casualties, it is also considered to be the world's deadliest avalanche.


The northern wall of Mount Huascarán was destabilized, causing a rock, ice and snow avalanche and burying the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The avalanc he started as a sliding mass ofglacial ice and rock about 3,000 feet (910 m) wide and one mile (1.6 km) long. It advanced about 11 miles (18 km) to the village of Yungay at an average speed of 280 to 335 km per hour.[6] The fast-moving mass picked up glacial deposits and by the time it reached Yungay, it is estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters (80,000,000 m³) of water, mud, and rocks.

Hurricane Katrina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hurricane Katrina was a hurricane in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the most expensive natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Parts of the states of Mississippi and Alabama were also badly damaged or flooded. It was the most expensive and one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of the United States (at $108 billion in damage). Over 1,800 people were killed by the storm, with 1,577 in Louisiana and 238 in Mississippi. However, the worst property damage was in coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, such as all Mississippi beachfront towns, which were flooded over 90% in hours, as boats and casino barges rammed buildings, pushing cars and houses inland, with waters reaching 6–12 miles (10–19 km) from the beach. In Alabama, large fishing boats, a small ship, and an oil rig came ashore, as beach homes and coastal buildings were flooded by waters 11–22 ft deep (3–6 m).

Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh tropical storm, fifth hurricane, and the second Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm formed over the Bahamas on August 23, where it moved east and hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane two days later. Katrina then crossed over Florida and strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm then hit Louisiana and Mississippi on the morning of August 29. The leftovers of Katrina then died out over the Great Lakes on August 31.

The damages Katrina brought were so bad that 80% of New Orleans was flooded when the levees to the city broke.[2][3] Most of the people killed by Katrina were thought to have died from drowning. Because of Katrina's effect on the US, the hurricane was known to be one of the most deadly hurricanes in US history.

2014 North American cold wave

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2014 North American polar vortex was a weather system that caused extremely cold weather through Canada and the United States.[1] Freezing temperatures went all the way down to Nashville, Tennessee. Several cities broke records: Chicago O'Hare International Airport set a record on 6 January with a temperature of -15°F, beating the -14°F record in 1884 and 1988.[2] There were also power failures throughout Canada and United States. One in Newfoundland on 5 January took out the power of 190,000 customers.[3] Almost 24,000 people lost electricity across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton ordered all schools closed down due to weather.[4] Across Indiana, over fifty of the state's ninety-two counties ordered roads closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles, mostly north of Indianapolis.[5]

Several people were killed because of the extreme weather all across North America.

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