The world is full of natural disasters: almost every day we are informed about volcanic eruptions, drought, floods, hurricanes… Terrible floods remain one of the most devastating natural disasters. High water tears down houses, destroy roads, and leaves thousands of people homeless. There are places on Earth where Mother Nature becomes a real killer.
In the historical books, you may read about a lot of severe floods, which took several thousand and even millions of human lives. Because these disasters mostly occur suddenly, people face them being totally unprepared. Some of the floods are caused by overflowing rivers, earthquakes, broken dams, incessant precipitations, and tsunamis. History knows some famous floods, which were deliberately caused by humans.
More than eight thousand lives were lost in the 1634 floods in Denmark and Germany. Hurricane winds caused a storm surge that led to the breach of a dam in several places on the North Sea coast. Many coastal towns in North Friesland were flooded. This disaster washed away almost all territory of Strand island and formed new islands, such as Pellworm, Nordstrand, and others.
One of the most terrible floods happened back in 1342. It is considered the biggest floods in the history of Central Europe. The biggest European rivers burst their banks: the Main, the Rhine, the Verra, the Weser, the Moselle, the Elbe, and others. By flooding the neighboring lands, the flood destroyed such populated cities of Europe as Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Vienna, and Regensburg. According to the scientists` reports- the long hot weather and dry period were followed by torrential rains that came for several days in a row.
As a result, about half of the annual average rainfall fell. And because the soil was extremely dry and it could not absorb this amount of water quickly, the water flooded huge areas. Many city buildings were demolished together with human lives. Although the total number of deaths remains unknown, this flood is considered to be one of the deadliest floods, as it is believed that about 6,000 people drowned in the Danube area alone.
As you know, the Huang He ( or The Yellow River) is China’s most capricious river. It is notorious for frequent floods, and more than once its waters have taken many human lives. The biggest floods of Huang He took place in 1887 and 1938.
Henan province, 1887, for many days a heavy rain was falling and on 28 September the Huang He river burst its levees. The water soon reached the provincial city of Zhengzhou and then flooded Northern China with a territory of 130,000 km². This flooding disaster has left almost two million people homeless and killed approximately one million people.
In 1938, flooding on the same river was instigated by the government of China at the beginning of the Japan-China War. Japanese troops were advancing into central parts of China when the Chinese government decided to flood the river in order to stop them. The flooding was later called «the worst flood ever caused by humans and the largest act of ecological warfare in history». The flood destroyed crops, villages, and cities, bringing death to millions of people. According to China’s initial data, about 800,000 people drowned. However, with more studies done, this data is questioned, as the archive researchers claim 400,000 to 500,000 deaths. It is interesting that this strategy of the Chinese government is considered to be at fault, as Japanese troops were far away from the flooded areas at the time. Although their attack on Zhengzhou was stopped, in October, the Japanese army conquered Wuhan.
Russian former capital has suffered a lot from floods throughout its history. Three hundred and thirty times- the number of floods, that surely has happened to the city. Currently, many buildings in the city have special signs, which show the level of water during floods. St. Petersburg in November 1824 faced a flood that took away hundreds of people’s lives and destroyed a lot of houses. The Neva river together with its canals flooded the city with the rise of the level of water from 4.15 to 4.25 meters above the normal level.
It was raining in the city for several days before the flooding began. The cold and damp were blowing and a sharp rise of water level occurred, covering the city with water. As a result, the material damage from the biggest flood ever that happened to St. Petersburg was about 16-22 million rubles, and about 200 to 600 people were killed.
From 1928 to 1930, the Republic of China had to grapple with a devastating drought. The drought ended in the winter of 1930, then heavy snowstorms came. The following year, in spring incessant precipitations and thaw, made the Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers to rise significantly. As a result, the river burst its banks and soon reached Nanjing city, spreading further to the capital of China. Many people drowned in that flood. Water-borne infectious diseases, typhoid, and cholera, for instance, caused a causality of thousands of people. According to Chinese statistical data, the flood has killed up to 150 thousand people, however, Western sources argue that the death toll is about 3.5 and 4 million. If the Western scientists are right, then this flood has the right to be the worst flood in the world.
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