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10 Worst floods in history
Main Articles - Casualty by Natural
May 10, 2010

Top 10 Worst floods in history

1. 1931 Huang He (Yellow) River flood - China

  • Death Toll: 1,000,000 to 3,700,000

The 1931 Central China floods or the Central China floods of 1931 are a series of floods that occurred during the Nanjing decade in the Republic of China era. It is generally considered the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded , and almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century (when pandemics are discounted) and in China. The human casualties are estimated from lows of 400,000 to highs of 3.7 million to 4 million.

2. 1887 Huang He (Yellow) River, China

  • Death Toll: 900,000 to 2,000,000

The 1887 Yellow River flood was a devastating flood on the Yellow River (Huang He) in China. This river is prone to flooding due to the elevated nature of the river, running between dykes above the broad plains surrounding it. The flood that began in September 1887 devastated the area, killing some 900,000 people. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.

For centuries, the farmers living near the Yellow River had built dikes to contain the rising waters, caused by silt accumulation on the riverbed. In 1887, this rising riverbed, coupled with days of heavy rain, overcame the dikes on around 28th September, causing a massive flood. Since there is no international unit with which to measure a flood's strength it is usually classified by the extent of the damage done,depth of water left and number of casualties.

The waters of the Yellow River are generally thought to have broken through the dikes in Huayankou, near the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province. Owing to the low-lying plains near the area, the flood spread very quickly throughout Northern China, covering an estimated 50,000 square miles, swamping agricultural settlements and commercial centers. After the flood, two million were left homeless. The resulting pandemic and lack of basic essentials claimed as many lives as those lost directly by the flood itself.

3. 1938 Huang He (Yellow) River - China

  • Death Toll: 500,000 - 900,000

he 1938 Yellow River flood was a flood created by the Nationalist Government in central China during the early stage of the Second Sino-Japanese War in an attempt to halt the rapid advance of the Japanese forces.

The floodwaters began pouring out from Huayuankou in the early morning on June 9, 1938. As a result, the course of the Yellow River was diverted southwards for nine years afterward, inundating 54,000 km² (21,000 square miles) of land in Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces. All in all, the flood waters took an estimated 500,000 lives. Note that this number includes casualty from floods in Northern China in the same year. Accurate records had not been maintained and the area was constantly being repopulated. Keep in mind that this estimation of casualties has yet to be completely confirmed by China's historical and military experts. No one is sure of the complete details of this incident. For instance, the causes of death have yet to be resolved as simple drowning, malaria, famine, fatigue, cyclones, or other unnatural form of death. This claim of 500,000 Chinese and Japanese lives is very vague and the issue of the actions of the locals near the Yellow River in relation to the flooding cycles of the 1930s is uncertain.

4. 1642 Kaifeng Flood

  • Death Toll: ~300,000

Kaifeng, a prefecture-level city in eastern Henan province, People's Republic of China, located along the southern bank of the Yellow River, was flooded during a siege in 1642 by the Ming Dynasty army and by the peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng with water from the Yellow River. Over 300,000 of the 378,000 residents of Kaifeng were killed by the flood and the ensuing peripheral disasters such as famine and plague.

The flood is sometimes referred to as a natural disaster due to the role of the Huang He river and is currently listed as the 7th deadliest natural disaster in history with a death toll of some 300,000.

The city was once the capital of China, but it did not experience the same population growth as its surrounding provinces and after this disaster the city was abandoned until 1662 when it was rebuilt under the rule of the celebrated Qing emperor Kangxi. It remained a rural backwater city of diminished importance thereafter and experienced several other less devastating floods. The flood brought an end to the "golden age" of the Jewish settlement of China, which is said to span from about 1300 to 1642. By the time of the flood the Jewish population of China had reached about 5,000, mostly in Kaifeng.

5. 1975 Ru River / Banqiao Dam collapse - China

  • Death Toll: 90,000 - 230,000

This flood was caused by the collapse of the Banquia Dam, along with several others, following a heavy rain caused by a typhoon. It is the worst dam related collapse in history.

The resulting flood waters caused a large wave, which was 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) wide and 3–7 meters (9.8–23 ft) high in Suiping , to rush downwards into the plains below at nearly 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph), almost wipe out an area 55 kilometers (34 mi) long and 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) wide, and create temporary lakes as large as 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 sq mi). Seven county seats, namely Suiping, Xiping, Ru'nan, Pingyu, Xincai, Luohe, Linquan, were inundated, as were thousands of square kilometers of countryside and countless communities. Evacuation orders had not been fully delivered because of weather conditions and poor communications. Telegraphs failed, signal flares fired by Unit 34450 were misunderstood, telephones were rare, and some messengers were caught by the flood. While only 827 out of 6,000 people died in the evacuated community of Shahedian just below Banqiao Dam, half of a total of 36,000 people died in the unevacuated Wencheng commune of Suipin County next to Shahedian, and the Daowencheng Commune was wiped from the map, killing all 9,600 citizens. Although a large number of people were reported lost at first, many of them returned home later. Tens of thousands of them were carried by the water to downriver provinces and many others fled from their homes. It has been reported that around 90,000 - 230,000 people were killed as a result of the dam breaking.

6. 1931 Yangtze River, China

  • Death Toll: ~145,000

Although the Huang He has caused more deaths, the Yangtze has had more than 1,000 recorded floods.The worst period was from July to August. In July alone, four weather stations along the Yangtze river reported rain totaling over 2 ft (0.61 m) for the month.The casualties of the Yangtze river drainage region reached 145,000 and affected 28.5 million.

7. The Netherlands and England, in 1099

  • Death Toll: ~100,000

A combination of high tides and storms flooded the Thames and the Netherlands, killing ~100,000.

8. The Netherlands - 1287- St. Lucia's Flood

  • Death Toll: 50,000- 80.000

St. Lucia's flood  was a storm tide that affected the Netherlands and Northern Germany on December 14, 1287 (the day after St. Lucia Day) when a dike broke during a storm, killing approximately 50,000 to 80,000 people in the fifth largest flood in recorded history. Much land was permanently flooded in what is now the Waddenzee and IJsselmeer. It especially affected the north of the Netherlands, particularly Friesland. The city of Griend was almost completely destroyed, only ten houses were left standing. The name Zuiderzee dates from this event, as the water had merely been a shallow inland lake when the first dikesNorth Sea levels created the "Southern Sea" when floods including this flood came in.

Although not known by the name of St Lucia, the same storm also had devastating effects on the other side of the water in England. The city of Winchelsea on Romney Marsh was destroyed (later rebuilt on higher ground). Nearby Broomhill was also destroyed. The course of the nearby river Rother was diverted away from New Romney, which was left a mile from the coast, ending its role as a port. The Rother ran instead to sea at Rye, prompting its rise as a port. A cliff collapsed at Hastings, blocking the harbour and ending its role as a trade centre, though it continued as a centre for fishing. Parts of Norfolk were flooded, eg the village of Hickling where 180 died and the water rose a foot above the high alter in the church. The port of Dunwich in Suffolk began its decline. Winchelsea in Kent also reported to have been hit by the surge.

9. The Neva River, Russia 1824

  • Death Toll: 1,000 - 10,000

10. The Netherlands 1421 - St. Elizabeth's flood

  • Death Toll: 1,000 - 10,000

The St. Elizabeth's flood of 1421 was a flooding of an area in what is now the Netherlands. It takes its name from the feast day of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary which was formerly November 19.

During the night of November 18 to November 19, 1421 a heavy storm near the North Sea coast caused the dikes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land was flooded. A number of villages were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing between 1,000 and 10,000 casualties. The dike breaks and floods caused widespread devastation in Zeeland and Holland. This flood separated the cities of Geertruidenberg and Dordrecht which had previously fought against each other during the Hook and Cod (civil) wars.

Most of the area remained flooded for several decades. Reclaimed parts are the Island of Dordrecht, the Hoeksche Waard island, and north-western North Brabant (around Geertruidenberg). Most of the Biesbosch area has been flooded since.

The cause of the flood was not a spring tide like in the great flood of 1953, but water from the storm in the North Sea surged up the rivers causing the dikes to overflow and break through.

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