Natural disasters are out of humans’ control and that is what makes them most devastating: the complete lack of power we have over the planet we inhabit and its many intricacies and mysteries.
All that can be done is prepare for the worst as efficiently as possible and hope for the best. Listed below are 2013’s worst disasters and the people who suffered through hardship and destruction alike.
On November 8th as we can all remember, the Philippines were struck by a massive typhoon, known as Typhoon Yolanda by locals, that killed over 6,000 with 1,800 still missing and unaccounted for.
The typhoon’s original death estimates were as high as 10,000 as the storm wreaked devastation upon the lands. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall.The days after the typhoon left the country in a state of devastation with individuals desperately seeking food, medicine and water.
Australia experienced an unprecedented number of wildfires in late October as more than 70 wildfires raged across Australia’s most populous state The Blue Mountain region, home to over 75,000 residents. The Blue Mountains is a popular tourist area and was the main focus of concern because of a huge fire in the Lithgow area.
The fires burned 25,800 hectares (310,859 acres), an area greater than the size of Los Angeles. Extra fire fighters and emergency crews were brought in for this emergency. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, one death was confirmed when a 63-year-old man died of a suspected heart attack while defending his home against a blaze on the New South Wales Central Coast.
Wildfires are common in Australia’s summer months from December to February. But an unusually dry and warm winter with record-high spring temperatures gave way to an early fire season, with promises of a long and tough summer.
Pakistan was struck by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that killed over 800 people and injured hundreds more on September 24th.
The earthquake hit hardest north-northeast of Awaran in the province of Balochistan, southwestern Pakistan. On September 28th, another earthquake with a 6.8 magnitude hit Pakistan, killing at least 45 people.
According to The National Disaster Management Authority, more than 30,000 families, an estimated 200,000 people, in the Awaran district, 400 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Quetta, have been homeless since the temblor.
Two major storms, Manuel and Ingrid, hit the country of Mexico within a 24 hour period in September.
Manuel was the weaker of the two cyclones, yet it managed to create far more destruction than its counterpart. Ingrid, a category 2 hurricane, hit eastern areas more accustomed to and therefore prepared for tropical storms and destructive weather.
These storms led to massive flooding and landslides that left 55 dead and over 750,000 cut off from aid and stranded in the Pacific resort town of Acapulco as well as nearby isolated mountain communities. Access routes were blocked by the severe weather, preventing emergency support to the area.
Mexico isn’t the only country that floods have severely affected. In June, a multi-day cloudburst hit the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, causing landslides and floods that resulted in more than 5,700 people missing. These people are presumed dead, according to the Uttarakhand government.
Other parts of Indian were affected but roughly 95% of the casualties occurred in Uttarakhand. This was the country’s worst natural disaster since a tsunami in 2004.
Army and paramilitary soldiers and volunteers rescued more than 100,000 people who were stranded in remote areas cut off by washed-out roads and landslides.
The Indian government originally estimated the death toll at 600 but repeatedly stressed that it would be significantly higher. According to Vijay Bahuguna, the chief minister of the state of Uttarakhand, the exact number of people who died may never be known.
A tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma on the afternoon of May 20th, killing 24 people and injuring almost 400 others. The tornado flattened entire neighborhoods and destroyed an elementary school with a direct blow. An estimated 1,150 homes were destroyed, and an estimated $2 billion in damages was caused.
This specific tornado was part of a larger weather system that had caused various other tornadoes over the past two days. The tornado touched down west of Newcastle with peak winds reaching up to 210 miles per hour. It stayed on the ground for 40 minutes over a 17-mile path.
Lushan/Sichuan earthquake- China
On April 20th, a 7.0 earthquake struck Lushan County, Ya’an, Sichuan, roughly in the same province that was heavily affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
The earthquake resulted in 196 dead, 24 missing and at least 11,826 injured with more than 968 seriously injured. Many old buildings in Lushan collapsed and several townships suffered major damage.
About 8,000 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army, 1,400 provincial rescue workers, 120 support vehicles, 180 doctors from a Chinese emergency response team and search-and-rescue dogs were sent into the stricken area after the destruction, with volunteers mobilized from other parts of the country.
A meteor known as the Chelyabinsk meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on February 15th at a speed almost 60 times the speed of sound. The light from the meteor was brighter than the sun and eyewitnesses report that they felt intense heat from the meteor.
When the object exploded over Chelyabinsk Oblast, many smaller meteorites were produced as well as a powerful shock wave, which damaged 7,200 buildings in six different cities.
The object had been undetected until it entered the atmosphere so when the explosion went off, it caused a panic among locals, resulting in roughly 1,500 people injured. Most if not all the injuries were indirectly related to the meteor such as injury from glass exploding from the shockwave. Repairs were made more difficult by Russia’s sub-zero temperatures.