15 Biggest and Worst Floods Ever in History

We humans, since our existence, are trying to control a greater force called nature from one way to another. In prehistoric times, our ancestors learned about fire and used fire for their basic needs. The same fire caused destruction whenever misused or ill-handled.

This is what we know now as the balance of nature; when you try to control nature itself will retaliate and will show her superiority over us. Floods are surely one of the most brutal ways of nature to avenge humankind and other living forms on the earth.

It is inevitable; no human can stop it from happening. Well, we don’t know about aliens whether they can or cannot, and if they can, we can do with a little help, don’t we?  We feel it as our duty to inform you about the biggest and Worst Floods Ever in the history of our civilization.

15. St. Marcellus flood  (AD.1362)

St. Marcellus flood 1362

Grote Mandrenke, a destructive southwesterly Atlantic gale, swept across the British Isles, the Netherlands, and Germany on 16 January 1362. The immense storm swept far inland, wiping out entire towns and districts.

This storm tide, along with many others in the 13th century and 14th century, played a vital part in the formation of the Zuiderzee in the northwest of the Netherlands. This storm tide is also known as the “Second St. Marcellus flood.”

14. Bangladesh famine (1974)

Bangladesh famine

Bangladesh in 1974 recorded the biggest and the worst flood ever occurred due to the monsoons. The southeast Asian country had encountered numerous floods due to its geographical setting but never had seen such devastation.

The whole nation had to deal with constant flooding, which bought famine and many diseases along with it. The 1974 flood nearly kills 30,000, and countless were seriously ill.

13. Yangtze river flood (1954)

Yangtze river flood 1954

The Yangtze River is the largest river in Asia and the third-largest in the World, and also accounted for nearly 20% of China’s GDP. But, historically, the river is also considered as one of the violent and vicious rivers in the world. In 1954, a series of deadly floods hit the Hubei province of central China.

These floods were significant for many important reasons. First, due to the colossal amount of precipitation and then extended amount of rainy season in central China and at the very heart of the Yangtze River in the spring of 1954, the river drastically went above its usual safety level in around late June.

Despite the countermeasure efforts to open the important floodgates to control the rising water level by diverting it, the flood level continued to rise until it hits the historic high of a staggering 44.67 m in Jingzhou, Hubei, and 29.73 m in Wuhan.

12. St. Marcellus flood (AD.1219)

St. Marcellus flood

Also known as the “First St. Marcellus flood,” it was occurred in 1219, along the coast of West Friesland and Groningen province of the Netherlands. The flood causing immense damage to property and drowned 36,000 people.

11. Eastern Guatemala flood (1949)

Eastern Guatemala flood

Eastern Guatemala flood of 1949 was a result of a Pacific hurricane, which created flooding problems that lasted for one month. The disaster killed approximately 40,000 people in Guatemala, and like the rest of these disasters, it left many people homeless.

10. North Sea Flood (AD.1212)

1212 North Sea - Biggest and Worst Floods

The Netherlands has a long history of series of floods. One of the most obvious reasons is that the country is originally formed by three large estuaries of the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt river, and their other tributaries. The 1212 North sea flood may not be the worst floods ever occurred in the country, but it killed around 60,000 people.

Whenever a flood of this magnitude occurs, no matter how advanced you are, you feel just helpless. It took years to rebuild the flood-affected region.

9. St. Lucia Flood (AD.1287)

St. Lucia Flood

St. Lucia Flood affected the Netherlands and North Germany on 12th December 1287. This is the sixth-largest flood in the history of the nation, which took the lives of nearly 80,000 people.

The main reason for this catastrophe was a combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm, and low pressure, which led to a rise of water level more than 5.6 meters (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in the north sea. St. Lucia flood had a major influence on the subsequent history of the Netherlands.

8. Yangtze River Flood (1911)

Yangtze River Flood

The Yangtze River Flood is one of the deadliest disasters that China has ever experienced. Chang Jiang or the Yangzi is the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. It flows for 6300 km from the Qinghai glaciers in Tibet to the East China Sea at Shanghai.

This river is the main source of irrigation, transport in China. The largest hydroelectric power station in the world was built on this river. In 1911, it killed around 1,00,000 people and caused severe property loss.

7. Red River and Hanoi Delta Flood (1971)

Red River and Hanoi Delta Flood

The Red River Delta is stretched over some 15,000 square km in northern Vietnam. In 1971, during the Vietnam war, the Red River delta flood killed more than 1,00,000 people in Hanoi.

6. St. Felix Flood (AD.1530)

St. Felix Flood

St. Felix Flood happened on 5th November 1530, on the name day of ST. Felix, in the Netherlands. Most of the land of the Netherlands was washed away, and more than 1,20,000 people were killed. Nowadays, the submerged area, including large parts of Flanders, Zeeland, and Reimerswaal cities, have completely turned into the salt marsh area. The day was later recognized as Evil Saturday (or Kwade Zaterdag) in Dutch history.

5. Yangtze River Flood (1935)

Yangtze river flood

In 1935, another flood had hit southeastern China on the Yangtze River. The Yangtze valley is amongst the most frequently flooded areas in the world that naturally floods every summer. This one was even crueler than the 1911 floods. It killed more than 1,50,000 people and destroyed everything that the residents of the valley had ever possessed.

Due to the flood, few dangerous water-borne diseases like Malaria, Dermatitis, and Tuberculosis occurred and plagued the whole nation.

4. Banqiao Dam Failure (1975)

Banqiao Dam Failure

The Banqiao Reservoir Dam is situated on the River Ru in Henan province, China. In 1975, Banqiao Reservoir was among the 62 dams in Zhumadian city that were destroyed during Typhoon Nina.

According to People’s Daily, the dam was designed to survive over 300 mm of rainfall per day, but the Typhoon caused the rainfall almost twice as much that the dam could handle. In August 1975, the breakdown of this dam led to the China half-flooded.

More than 1,60,000 people were killed, and millions of people were stuck underwater for days fighting for their survival. According to the reports, the approximate property loss was over the US $500 million.

Read: 25+ Deadliest Airline Disasters in History

3. Yellow River Flood (1938)

1938 Yellow River Flood

The Yellow River flood of 1938 was the largest act of environmental warfare. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, China was under pressure from the Japanese forces. The then Nationalist Government decided to halt the forces from further advancement.

As a plan, they decided to destroy the dikes at the Yellow River, letting the river freely flow into the settlements near Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu province. There was nothing to gain; the strategic value of the flood has been questioned. Japanese troops were out of its range; moreover, they were not able to stop their forces.

The report indicates that around 8,00,000 people were drowned, which may be an understatement.

2. Yellow River Flood (1887)

yellow river flood 1887

Almost half-a-decade before s before the 1938 Yellow river flood, there was another catastrophe that happened in 1887 in the same Yellow River in China. On 28th September 1887, the river’s water overflow and killed more than 9,00,000 people. More than 2 million people were homeless, and over 50,000 square km of land got submerged, destroyed agricultural lands and commercial centers.

1. China Flood (1931)

1931 China Flood

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Perhaps the deadliest flood ever in the history of humankind took place in 1930, a severe drought afflicted almost the entire China. Due to isolated weather conditions over the central region, which began in the winter of late 1930, heavy snowstorms in the winter followed by heavy rains raised river levels significantly.

In 1931, the conditions become much worse as the country experienced extreme cyclone activity. The final destruction started in July 1931, when the water level in the three biggest rivers in the country exceeds the maximum limits and starts deluge.

Official Chinese sources claimed that nearly 145,000 people had lost their lives. On the contrary, many other external sources claimed that it was much higher and as much as 4 to 5 million people.

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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  • omg i feel so sorry for those that didnt make it

  • is that suppose to be sad

  • This would be a lot better if the editors knew where to put the comma when quoting 10k+ figures. Pathetic.

  • sabastian says:

    witch one is the biggest flood. to me they all seem the same

  • Gissing.Vivian says:

    Don’t ask what others have done for you, but ask what you have done for others

  • The article is good – many thanks!
    The notations such as “1,80,000” do leave me wondering, though. I have never before seen only two digits between commas in decimal notation, and so wonder how to read it.
    The photos are much appreciated!
    Truly, the Chinese people have endured many great struggles.

    • It would be read as One Lakh Eighty Thousand, at least in my country. Here, we always put the commas after two digits, though we are aware that in the West a lot of people put the commas before three digits.