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The Top Ten Strangest Disasters on Record

Updated on April 23, 2012

The Top Ten Strangers Disasters on Record

By: Cow Flipper

10. 1947 Texas City Chain Reaction (Explosive Chemicles)

April 15th, 1947 a French freighter docked at the Texas City port with 1400 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer a high explosive and unstable cargo. Sometime in the night a fire broke out in the ships hold, by morning the blaze was spewing toxic smoke into the dawn red sky. Only 700 feet from the freighter was the Monsanto chemical plant. Tug boats came to pull the freighter away from the dock and out to sea when a fire ball enveloped the freighter. A wall of super heated flame fanned outward and ignited the Monsanto chemical plant which caused a massive secondary explosion killing hundreds of people. Another ship carrying nitrates then exploded and the towns business district was laid to waste. In the end 500 were dead and over a 1000 were injured.

9. 1986 Lake Nyos, Cameroon Toxic Bubble CO2 Poisoning (Volcanic Activity)

In 1986 at Lake Nyos in Cameroon 1800 people were found dead in the area around the lake. Not only people but thousand of cattle and wild animals were also found dead. The bodies showed no signs of trauma at all and no signs of disease. It was determined that the lake was the cause of the massive die off. The lake sits in the crater of a now extinct volcano. When the water in the lake was tested scientists found very high levels of CO2. It is believed a big bubble was released from the bottom of the lake and a cloud of toxic carbon dioxide then surfaced and popped and the gas within was released and then fanned outward from the lake to the surrounding areas. As the gas moved through the villages and surrounding woods it suffocated all life within the area of the lake.

8. 1816 The Endless Winter (Volcanic Fall-Out)

In 1816 there was no summer... Yeah I know, it does conjure up thoughts of C.S. Lewis and his Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. But this really did happen. I know that nowadays we hear all about greenhouse gases and global warming but in 1816 the northern hemisphere in Europe and North American experienced a mini ice-age. That year frost killed off crops which created mass food shortages. Europeans set out in search of warmer climates and headed west. The reason for this famine and constant winter (it even snowed midsummer in places) was a the eruption of Mount Tambora which erupted in 1815., The volcanic ash created a debris stream in the atmosphere which cooled the earths average temperature.

7. 1986 India, Springtime Mortal Hail Event (Meteorlogical)

In Bangladesh India more than 92 people died as a result of being hit by super large chunks of hail. The largest pieces of hail fell over Gopalganj with ice weighing as much as 2 lbs a piece. It also destroyed many of the local crops.

6. 1902 Snake Invasion of Martinque (Nature Animal Life)

In 1902 a geologic event lead to a very odd case when the smell of sulfur coming from volcanic activity from Bald Mountain caused a massive influx of poisonous snakes called Bathrops Lanceolatus from off the mountain and into the streets, businesses, and homes of the people living in the city of Saint Pierre. Over 50 people lost their lives and countless pets and livestock.

5. The 1811 - 1812 New Madrid Earthquake (Geology)

In 1811 New Madrid, Missouri saw one of the biggest earthquakes in modern history. When the fault is activated it creates a massive shaking on a large scale. The good thing is that at the time the area was only sparsely populated and only a few lives were lost. The quake caused massive cracks to split open the ground and reshaped the landscape. The quake was so powerful that it caused the Mississippi River to reverse its course and liquify the ground where crops were lost. The quake was felt as far away as Boston.

4. December 1952 London's Air Pollution (Pollution)

In December of 1952 a cold fog settled over the London area and caused the temperature to drop. The people of London began burning more coal to heat their homes which in turn caused a swelling in the amount of pollution within the city. As the coal was combusted it became trapped in the cold fog over that hung over the city. In just two days the fog was thick with soot, this made it impossible to drive. Being inside did not help either.All outside public events and entertainment was canceled. In the weeks that followed 4,000 people died and in the following months another 8,000 people died from respiratory issues caused by the over exposure to the soot and pollution. This event lead to the Clean Air Act of 1956.

3. The 1972 Elephant Stampede of Chandka Forest (Nature Animal Life)

In the spring of 1972 the Chandka forest was in a massive drought, What was worse is that there was also a strong heat wave over the region. The local elephant population which was normally docile went on an elephant stampede which forced many farmers and their families to flee their homes. The elephants continued to remain aggressive into the later summer months. All in all the elephants destroyed five villages and killed 24 people. What is interesting is that the area now has higher rainfall and it is now an elephant reserve.

2. The 1919 Boston Purity Distilling Company Molasses Flood (Manufacturing Disaster)

January 15th, 1919 was a tragic day for the Purity Distilling Company and the people of the nearby town of Boston. The townspeople and the Purity Company employees were alarmed by aa dull roar which briefly thundered from a six story tall tank at the Purity Molasses plant, the tank had been filled with molasses. The sound came from towering tank which had just exploded into three giant sheets of iron. The explosion was so powerful it leveled nearby buildings including the fire station which was crushed by one of the chunks of steel from the tank.

Two and a half million gallons of molasses then rushed in a tidal wave of sticky gunk that then flooded into the city flowing into streets, slipping buildings off foundations, sweeping carts, wagons, horses, and cars away, and even an elevated train was thrown when the track it was on lost its girders that broke from the force of the sticky debris piling up underneath it.

In the end the sludge was over three feet deep. The entire town was covered in dark brown molasses and even rescue workers soon became mired in the goo. When all was said and done 21 people were dead and a 150 were injured. It cost the Purity Company over a million dollars in settlements, about eleven million today. It took over six months to clean up the mess.

1. The 1932 Dust Bowl (Man Made Disaster)

In the 1930s the Great Depression was in full swing, the economy had collapsed. The government urged farmers to cut back production on wheat but the farmers desperate for money harvested more wheat to make up for their losses.As farmers were unable to pay the banks for their land and property the banks foreclosed. The fields soon fell victim to drought and neglect.

Then came the winds picking up debris and dust from the neglected fields; this wind scoured the bare earth and grew into a giant dust storm (called a Haboob). It was like the wrath of God himself visited upon the lifeblood of our nation. The windswept up millions of tons of earth which covered farms homes and towns across the plains. Many children developed dust pneumonia. Many business owners disparaged by the Dust Bowl committed suicide and many desperate people were forced to exodus to the east and west coast cities to make a living.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I. Was. In. The. 2004. Tsunami and. My. Mom. And. Dad. And. My. Brothers. And. Sisters. All. 10. Of. Them. Died. In. The. 2004. Tsunami. When. I. Was. 11 years. Old

    • cheetah786 profile image


      7 years ago

      all disasters are horrible...

    • Sandy Frost profile image

      Sandy Frost 

      7 years ago from India

      Really, it lets us think that how much losses are incurred to mankind in such exhausting consequences. A dreadful disaster comes, sweeps all things coming in it's way and leaves sorrow and affliction behind.

      Many thanks for providing such information. Voted up.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wow, I can't say that I have heard of any of these. That one about the 1800 people dying at the lake is really eerie. Good job!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      7 years ago from Pune, India

      Interesting Hub. Thank you for sharing such rare information. Voted up and shared.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      7 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Found this absolutely fascinating. I knew about some of these disasters and I have an old family diary from the early 19th century that mentions the New Madrid earthquake and that it changed the course of the Mississippi River, so I knew about that-- but some of the others were totally new to me and very interesting. Thanks for a good read. I learned a lot

    • Ana Teixeira profile image

      Ana Teixeira 

      7 years ago from Oporto, Porto, Portugal

      very good hub.. and ia also learnt a lot from it. most of these were unnknown to me.. congrats on the hub.. voting UP!

    • Austinstar profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      That Texas disaster wasn't man made, that was just the sun rising in July. It was so hot that day, it ignited everything combustible. Dang old Texas sunshine.

      Love the hub because it's always interesting to read about weird stuff. 2 pound hail, you say? That must have been some storm!

      Too bad there weren't enough biscuits and butter to go around during the molasses escape. That would have been a party!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Written with a lot of energy; made reading your Hub even more exciting. Incredible disasters. Really fast paced, couldn't put it down. I didn't know about any of them! (London yes, my Grandma Rose was living there at the time. I remember visiting her in the pea soupers - that's what the fog was called - before the final pea souper of all times, the '52 cold winter one you wrote about). Fascinating.

      Voting and clicking.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 

      7 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Cow Flipper, very interesting facts, wasn't aware of these. Always good to know. Voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!

    • Cow Flipper profile imageAUTHOR

      Sean Jankowski 

      7 years ago from Southern Oregon

      Dude MazioCreate Thanks so much for your edit! :) Glad you enjoyed it.

    • MazioCreate profile image


      7 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      I had no idea about most of these disasters. Your hub was a great read and the molasses flood story mindboggling. You might want to edit disaster 1 because you have repeated a couple of sentences. Thanks for doing the research and sharing. Voted up!

    • Cow Flipper profile imageAUTHOR

      Sean Jankowski 

      7 years ago from Southern Oregon

      rahul0324 how fascinating, I would love to talk to them about that experience. :)

      Yes Natashalh It is such a strange thing to have happen that it is always on everyone's top ten weird disasters.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      Funny, I mentioned the year there was no summer in my latest hub about Bob Beckel. I'm glad to know there's someone else who knows about it. (Of course, summer in Vermont isn't like summer elsewhere. I once saw a sweatshirt which told the truth - the best winter I ever had was summer in Vermont.) I found all of your disasters interesting to read about. Ten more would be interesting...

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I have something to do with the 1986 hail fall..Gopalganj is my ma's birthplace and nostalgic to my childhood

      wonderful greenery.. famous for its sugar mills and crops

      .. and as she tells the encounters of the storm... my granny and grandpa survived the storm..

      Interesting stories... my personal favorite here would be the endless winter 1816

      great hub

    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      As soon as I saw the title, I was wondering if the molasses flood was going to be included! We we joking about it at work just two days ago, but we didn't know how many people died. I will have to fill everyone in on the details. Voted up and interesting.


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