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Trebuchet
2005-Jan-01, 04:41 AM
I've heard several people on radio and TV use this phrase the past couple of days, in reference to the earthquake/tsunami. While it's certainly horrific, is it accurate to say "worst ever"? Or is it just media hyperbole coupled with a typical lack of fact checking?

I seem to recall hearing of floods in China in the 1960's which were covered up by the Maoist government, killing perhaps hundreds of thousands.

And isn't disease a natural disaster of sorts? If so, the Black Death, the 1918 Flu, and AIDS have each killed millions.

tmosher
2005-Jan-01, 05:05 AM
The July 1976 China quake had an official death toll of 255,000 but unofficial numbers place it near 655,000.

2005-Jan-01, 07:05 AM
I'm sure I read somewhere, of a cyclone that killed 750,000 in Bangladesh sometime around 1970! :( :(

Maksutov
2005-Jan-01, 08:34 AM
I've heard several people on radio and TV use this phrase the past couple of days, in reference to the earthquake/tsunami. While it's certainly horrific, is it accurate to say "worst ever"? Or is it just media hyperbole coupled with a typical lack of fact checking?...
It's just media hyperbole coupled with a typical lack of fact checking. Here are the actual historical numbers. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=387579#387579) Thank you, beskeptical, for correcting, in the next post, the "quarter million" statement.

Brady Yoon
2005-Jan-01, 08:36 AM
I know that an earthquake in China in 1556 killed 830,000 people.

Here's a link.

http://www.drgeorgepc.com/EarthquakesChina.html

Trebuchet
2005-Jan-01, 04:26 PM
I've heard several people on radio and TV use this phrase the past couple of days, in reference to the earthquake/tsunami. While it's certainly horrific, is it accurate to say "worst ever"? Or is it just media hyperbole coupled with a typical lack of fact checking?...
It's just media hyperbole coupled with a typical lack of fact checking. Here are the actual historical numbers. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=387579#387579) Thank you, beskeptical, for correcting, in the next post, the "quarter million" statement.

Thanks, I don't normally visit ATM so I had missed this. What really annoys me is that the media don't even bother to look for facts, they just throw out "worst ever" and folks believe it.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Jan-01, 06:29 PM
I would say it was one of the worst ever, true Bangladesh, India and China have seen many deaths in the past but this is maybe the worst international incident, the Tidal wave which involves thousands of deaths from multiple nations and scores of foreigners which were at tourist destinations. Not since the WTC attack were so many tourists killed, and the numbers in this Tsunami keep growing, unless of course you count that quake in Japan the 143,000 in an 8.3 from Kwanto, Japan in 1923 plus many foreigners and thousands of Koreans murdered by hysteric Japanese mobs who accused the foreigners of stealing during the Quake


But even from that height, you can get a sense of the waves' power.

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j....rge.jpg


typical image of the coastline at Kalutara in southwestern Sri Lanka is shown at left, taken by DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite in January 2004. At right, a Quickbird image of the same area shows the devastation left behind by the Dec. 26 tsunami about an hour after the first wave hit. Click on the image to see larger views from NASA.


Thousands of jobs destroyed, thousands of families homelesss in Thailand, Indonesia...
Many foreigners also killed##


In many areas, health experts said the relief operation looked woefully inadequate with shortages of coffins, equipment and medicine, while emergency workers struggled with power outages, destroyed communications and badly damaged roads.

In parts of India's Tamil Nadu state, officials gave up counting the dead in their hurry to bury them in mass graves.

Fresh television pictures on Wednesday gave some idea of the unforgiving force of the killer wave, dragging terrified family members from each other's clutches, sweeping trucks and buses through buildings, flipping ships on to land.

1,000 Germans, 440 Norwegians and 200 Finns. By Wednesday, more than 1,200 bodies had been recovered at southern Thai beach resorts, but officials said the toll could be more than 3,000.


U.S. embassy officials continued to hunt for 2,000 to 3,000 Americans who remain unaccounted for, and asked travelers to check in with families. At least 12 Americans are known to be dead.

Norway's government said the tsunami threatened to become one of the worst disasters for its nation in modern times.

At Khao Lak beach, where officials say up to 3,000 people may have died, Thai and German rescuers searched the wreckage of a half-built luxury hotel on Wednesday after villagers said they had heard calls for help from people trapped inside.

In Washington, one U.S. official said Thailand's death toll was likely to be much higher because rescue teams had yet to reach some areas.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Pacific Command, the military command that operates in that part of the world, also said it is deploying 20 ships from docks in Hong Kong, Guam and the island of Diego Garcia.

The ships, many of which will take several days to arrive, are loaded with medical equipment and mobile hospitals, 41 helicopters, 2,100 Marines, 1,400 sailors and the capacity to generate 600,000 gallons of fresh water daily.

death toll from the devastating tsunamis topped 87,400.

Worried officials in the area believe disease could double that figure.

More than a million people have been left homeless by the disaster, and hospitals have been overwhelmed by at least 100,000 injured.

European leaders were also preparing their citizens for a grim New Year.
419 Danes, 263 Finns, 200 Czechs and 294 Singaporean tourists are among those reported missing.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said hundreds of his countrymen probably died in the disaster.
A deputy foreign minister said on Thursday 33 Germans were confirmed dead, while more than 1,000 were missing


Thousands of tourists enjoying their Christmas holidays at Indian Ocean resorts, principally in Thailand, could be among the victims. Some 1,500 Swedes, 1,000 Germans, 600 Italians were missing.

It's very sad, the news just keeps getting worse every day for these people. Let's hope enough help can be given to them

Kizarvexis
2005-Jan-01, 09:26 PM
Our local paper here in Tampa has been describing it as the worst ever Tsunami disaster. It appears that may be true, but I don't know for sure.

For the absolute worst natural disaster, I would think the Permian mass extinction ~250 million years ago, with 95% of life on Earth being killed, would be the worst.

Kizarvexis

Parrothead
2005-Jan-01, 10:26 PM
Do meteor strikes count? I'm thinking Ice Age here.

edit: I do have to pay closer attention to what is written. #-o

Brady Yoon
2005-Jan-02, 01:00 AM
If you want to go to extremes, then it would be the "Big Splat", a nickname for the event that created the Moon, a Mars-sized planetestimal which hit the Earth around 4.5 billion years ago when it was molten.

If this hit Earth today, say goodbye to all life. There's absolutely no chance anything's gonna be alive. :o

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-02, 01:11 AM
Heck, I'm going to say a supernova would be pretty bad, if we aren't confining ourselves to this planet (or this solar system, for that matter).

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-02, 01:13 AM
Bacteria could make it. Some species oxidize iron for the energy they need... Then there are the hydrogen sulfide eating ones at vents on the sea floor... But yeah, at least half of all known species of bacteria would probably die off.

(I'm guessing most that would disappear would be Eubacteria... Archeae seem to be rather better at survival under nasty conditions.)

Dark Helmet
2005-Jan-02, 01:44 AM
Whatever happened 250 Mil. years ago.

aurora
2005-Jan-02, 02:49 AM
In historical times, I'd vote for either the black plague that hit Europe in the 1300's (?) and killed about 30% (?) of the population.

Or for the introduction of smallpox to the new world which almost wiped out the native populations of the Americas. Certainly killed millions, probably rough guesses as to the number vary.

Brady Yoon
2005-Jan-02, 04:47 AM
Bacteria could make it. Some species oxidize iron for the energy they need... Then there are the hydrogen sulfide eating ones at vents on the sea floor... But yeah, at least half of all known species of bacteria would probably die off.

(I'm guessing most that would disappear would be Eubacteria... Archeae seem to be rather better at survival under nasty conditions.)

Are you sure bacteria would survive such a violent collision? The Earth would literally be torn apart and almost destroyed... I don't think backteria can survive 2,000 degree + molten lava all over the Earth.

Anyway, gamma ray bursts (outside the big bang itself) would be a strong contender for worst disaster, but it's probably out of the scope for this discussion. :)

aurora
2005-Jan-03, 06:15 PM
Are you sure bacteria would survive such a violent collision? The Earth would literally be torn apart and almost destroyed... I don't think backteria can survive 2,000 degree + molten lava all over the Earth.



I think you are right, although it depends on whether there is rock somewhere that does not become molten (bacteria live deep within the earth).

But when our Moon was created, the whole Earth was probably molten.

Swift
2005-Jan-03, 06:48 PM
In historical times, I'd vote for either the black plague that hit Europe in the 1300's (?) and killed about 30% (?) of the population.

Or for the introduction of smallpox to the new world which almost wiped out the native populations of the Americas. Certainly killed millions, probably rough guesses as to the number vary.
I've also read comparisons between the 1918 Influenza pandemic and the Black Plague that says the impact in 1918 was similar

During the 1918-1919 fall period the number of Americans who died from influenza is estimated at 675,000. Of those, almost 200,000 deaths were recorded in the month of October 1918 alone. Worldwide, the mortality figure for the full pandemic is believed to stand somewhere between 30 to 40 million.
From this (http://www.ninthday.com/spanish_flu.htm) website.

Doodler
2005-Jan-03, 06:57 PM
In terms of absolute worst, I'd put #2 as the Black Plague, based not on numbers, but in terms of percentage of people killed. #1 in human history is Toba. Our species barely in the hundred thousands knocked to a around 2000. http://zyx.org/TOBA.html

Don't get me wrong, this one's bad, but far from the worst.

Fram
2005-Jan-04, 11:53 AM
Didn't know about the Toba eruption, but where do they get the numbers for human extinction? The links they give don't add any info about it (as far as I can see), and it seems to me to be more handweaving and less science. Is there any evidence of human extinction in this period? Whole regions where there were humans before 75000 BP and no longer afterwards? What regions did have sufficient populations left to let the species survive? 2000 worldwide is very little, certainly when they are spread over three continents. What happened to other species (animals and so on). Is there evidence of any other extinction (except of course in the region of the eruption)?

I googled a bit more, and it seems this is still a hypothesis of one or a few authors, not really 'accepted science' yet. This doesn't mean it's false, but it's perhaps a bit early days yet to take it as fact.