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This is a list of the deadliest tornadoes in world history. This list includes confirmed individual tornadoes that caused 100 or more direct fatalities.

The deadliest tornadoes by far have occurred in a small area of Bangladesh and East India. In this 8,000-square-mile (21,000 km2) area, 24 of the 42 tornadoes which are known to have killed 100 or more people occurred. [1] This is probably due to the high population density and poor economic status of the area, as well as a lack of early warning system. [1]

Most of the rest occurred in the United States in 1953 or earlier, before tornado prediction efforts began. The only tornado on this list to occur during the 21st century is the Joplin tornado, which occurred on May 22, 2011.


There are many sources of uncertainty in the statistics mentioned on this page. Before the 20th century, and even until recently in third-world countries, records-keeping was spotty at best. Before the American Civil War, slave deaths were often not included in tornado death tolls. Fatalities of Africans in the Southern US were routinely not counted through the 1940s and in some cases into the 1950s. Most tornadoes from many decades ago had no official government report on damage or casualties, so statistics must be compiled from local newspapers, which are not always a reliable, consistent, or comprehensive source. Many death tolls were published with people still missing, or with people critically injured and likely to die later. News media, Red Cross, and other counts don't necessarily distinguish whether a death was directly caused by a tornado and can include deaths during cleanup efforts. Routine counting of fatalities began in the US in the 1950s. In Bangladesh and India, exact populations of towns were often not known, so most death figures are approximate. Individual tornado descriptions go into more detail on these uncertainties. Officials in some areas, for example in Russia (and the USSR) and parts of Europe, until recent years denied that tornadoes occur in those areas thus fatalities may not be counted as tornadic.

There is also meteorological uncertainty with the nature of many tornadoes on this list. Before the 1970s, and even now outside of North America, most tornado paths were not thoroughly surveyed to ensure that the storm was indeed a single tornado and not a series of tornadoes from the same storm (a tornado family). Often a single supercell can produce a new tornado soon after or even before the demise of an old tornado, giving the appearance to many observers that a single tornado has caused all the damage. On this list, if it is likely that the tornado was in fact two or more tornadoes, it will appear in italics.


Rank Name (location) Country Date Deaths Injuries# Description
1 Daultipur and Saturia Bangladesh ys26 April 1989 1,300 12,000 The deadliest tornado in recorded world history, this storm destroyed everything but a few trees from Daultipur to Saturia. [2] [3]
2 Tri-State Tornado US n18 March 1925 695 2,027 Unlike most historical long-track tornadoes, this was probably a single tornado, not a tornado family, although it partly or completely destroyed more than ten towns. The path length of 219 miles (352 km) is the longest ever recorded. The death toll of 689 is the official National Weather Service total, however, the Red Cross lists a total of 695, and the death toll was probably even higher due to injured people who died after the fact. [4]
3 Manikganj, Singair and Nawabganj Bangladesh yj17 April 1973 681 Unknown The village of Balurchar was completely destroyed, with eight other villages almost totally leveled. [2]
4 1969 East Pakistan tornado East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh) yv14 April 1969 660 Unknown 660 were killed after the tornado struck the northeastern suburbs of Dhaka, causing colossal damage. The bodies of the tornado's victims were mutilated. [5]
5 Grand Harbour at Valletta Malta aa23 September 1551 600 Unknown Waterspout destroyed a shipping armada, then moved ashore, causing severe damage. The storm may have occurred in 1556; sources conflict. [6]
1996 Bangladesh tornado Bangladesh 13 May 1996 600 37,248 Powerful tornado ripped through the Jamalpur and Tangail districts, causing over 600 fatalities. Over 16,000 homes were destroyed. Death toll may be as high as 700. [7] [8] [9]
7 Magura and Narail Districts' Bangladesh yc11 April 1964 500 Unknown Wiped seven villages off the map. The death toll may have been as high as 1,400, but official records conflict. There were no survivors from the village of Bhabanipur, where around 400 people lived. [2]
1851 Sicily tornadoes Italy a8 December 1851 500 Unknown Two waterspouts moved onshore at the western end of the island, becoming large, violent tornadoes. This was as a pair of tornadoes, but details are very scarce; it may have been a single multiple-vortex tornado. [6] [10]
Madaripur and Shibchar Bangladesh yl1 April 1977 500 Unknown All buildings and trees in Madaripur and Shibchar were destroyed. [2]
10 Natchez, MS US ab6 May 1840 317 109 Killed hundreds in boats on the Mississippi River. May have slaughtered and injured hundreds more slaves on plantations outside of the city; however, slave deaths were traditionally not included in official totals. [11]
11 North of Cooch Behar and surrounding areas India,
yb19 April 1963 300 Unknown Touched down near Cooch Behar, India, and passed across the extreme northern tip of Bangladesh. Debris was found 30 miles (48 km) away from the damaged area. [2] One source only mentions 139 deaths. [12]
Bhakua and Haripur unions Bangladesh yh29 April 1972 300 Unknown [2]
13 Comilla Bangladesh yf14 April 1969 263 Unknown Spawned by a separate storm from the Dhaka tornado, which killed 660 earlier in the day. The tornado itself caused 263 deaths [2] [5]
14 St. Louis and East St. Louis US e27 May 1896 255 1000 Destroyed a large section of downtown in both cities. This death toll probably does not include people living in shanty boats on the Mississippi River. [13]
15 Border of Orissa and West Bengal India yw24 March 1998 250 Unknown [2]
16 Tupelo, MS US q5 April 1936 216 700 Destroyed several hundred homes in the city, many of good construction. Over 100 people were still in hospitals when this official death toll was published, so the actual death toll may be higher. [14]
17 Calcutta India ac8 April 1838 215 Unknown Moved very slowly (6 mph, 10 km/h) through the eastern suburbs of Calcutta, sweeping the ground clean in some places. [2]
18 Faridpur and Dhaka Districts Bangladesh ya19 March 1961 210 Unknown [2]
19 Gainesville, GA US r6 April 1936 203 1600 In the same outbreak as the Tupelo tornado, destroyed a large section of downtown at the start of the work day. Forty people were still missing when this death toll was published. [15]
20 14 miles southwest of Mymensingh Bangladesh yg1 April 1972 200 Unknown A fifteen square mile (38 km2) area was "wiped clean". [2]
Faridpur District Bangladesh ua12 May 1951 200 Unknown [2]
Baliakandi Bangladesh yi12 April 1973 200 Unknown [2]
Parshuram, Fulgazi, Somarpur, and Sonagazi Bangladesh yp12 April 1981 200 Unknown [2]
24 Higgins, TX; Woodward, OK US t9 April 1947 181 970 This death toll may be inflated, as this storm was certainly a family of two or more tornadoes. However, at least 107 were killed in Woodward alone by a single tornado, where 100 city blocks were flattened. [16]
25 Jaipur and Keonjhar Districts India yn16 April 1978 173 Unknown [2]
26 Joplin, MO US yx22 May 2011 158 1,150 EF5 tornado struck the southern part of the city along a west-to-east path .75 miles (1.21 km) wide by 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long. [17] [18] The tornado resulted in 158 direct and three indirect deaths. [19] [20] [17]
27 Kandi India yu9 April 1993 145 Unknown [2]
28 Amite, LA and Purvis, MS US i24 April 1908 143 770 Deaths scattered across two states; highest toll in Purvis where 143 of the town's 150 houses were demolished. [21]
29 Naria, Zajira and Bhederganj Bangladesh ye24 April 1908 141 Unknown [2]
30 Karimpur India yo18 April 1978 128 Unknown [2]
31 Kapundi, Erandi, Dhanbeni and Rengalbeda Bangladesh yq17 April 1981 120 Unknown [2]
Borni Bangladesh yr14 April 1986 120 Unknown [2]
33 Dhaka Bangladesh i24 April 1908 118 Unknown [2]
34 New Richmond, WI US f12 June 1899 117 200 Struck the day the circus was in town. Exacted a direct hit on the town, destroying the entire business district and half the residences in the town. Of the 117 fatalities, all but six occurred within the vicinity of New Richmond. [22]
35 Flint, MI US v8 June 1953 116 844 Destroyed a one-mile stretch of houses on Coldwater Road. [23]
36 Waco, TX US u11 May 1953 114 597 Thirty or more were killed in a six-story furniture store when it collapsed, with several others killed in cars by the falling bricks. [24]
Goliad, TX US ga18 May 1902 114 250 Around 100 buildings destroyed. Killed 85 initially, with the rest dying from their injuries later. [25]
38 Mokshedpur, Bhanga and Tungipara Bangladesh ym2 April 1977 111 Unknown [2]
39 Omaha, NE US j23 March 1913 103 350 Cut a 0.25 mile (0.4 km) gouge through the city, destroying or damaging almost 2000 homes. [26]
40 Mattoon and Charleston, IL US k26 May 1917 101 638 In the past, this was plotted as a record-length 293-mile (472-km) long tornado path, killing 110, but scientists now know that it was a family of at least four tornadoes. A single tornado killed at least 93 people in and near these two cities, and 101 deaths is the best modern estimate for a single tornado. [27]
41 Shinnston, WV US s23 June 1944 100 381 Cut a remarkably continuous path at least 60 miles (97 km) through mountainous terrain. Most deaths occurred in a 10-mile (16-km) stretch near Shinnston. May have killed one more in Pine Grove, Wetzel County. [28] This is the only violent (F4/EF4 or F5/EF5) tornado in West Virginia history.
11 miles West of Bogra Bangladesh yk11 April 1974 100 Unknown [2]


May have been higher.
#Most injury figures are approximate

See also


  1. ^ a b Finch, Jonathan D.; Dewan, Ashraf M. " Tornados in Bangladesh and East India ". Accessed 2009-01-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w *Finch, Jonathan D. " List of 86 tornados in Bengal for 1838-2001". Accessed June 15, 2007.
  3. ^ "April 26, 1989: A tornado devastates more than... -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ Grazulis, pg. 796
  5. ^ a b "Bangladesh Tornado Climatology". Retrieved 2023-02-09.
  6. ^ a b TORRO. " British & European Tornado Extremes Archived 2007-08-14 at the Wayback Machine". Accessed June 26, 2007.
  7. ^ "The Deadliest Tornado in the World". The Weather Channel.
  8. ^ Davis, Lee Allyn (March 25, 2008). Natural Disasters. Infobase Publishing. ISBN  9781438118789 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Paul, Bimal Kanti (August 1, 1998). "Coping with the 1996 Tornado in Tangail, Bangladesh: An Analysis of Field Data". The Professional Geographer. 50 (3): 287–301. doi: 10.1111/0033-0124.00121.
  10. ^ Waterspout on the starboard bow Archived 2009-02-02 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2009-01-25.
  11. ^ Grazulis, pgs. 559-560
  12. ^ Grazulis p. 128
  13. ^ Grazulis, pgs. 676-677
  14. ^ Grazulis, pg. 866
  15. ^ Grazulis, pgs. 865-866
  16. ^ Grazulis, pg. 927
  17. ^ a b "NWS Central Region Service Assessment Joplin, Missouri, Tornado May 22, 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  18. ^ Kevin Murphy (May 31, 2011). "Missouri officials continue identifying tornado dead". Reuters. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  19. ^ "Joplin Tornado - May 22nd, 2011". National Weather Service. September 15, 2011.
  20. ^ "Annual U.S. Killer Tornado Statistics". Storm Prediction Center.
  21. ^ Grazulis, pg. 713
  22. ^ Grazulis, pg. 688
  23. ^ Grazulis, pg. 974
  24. ^ Grazulis, pg. 970
  25. ^ Grazulis, pg. 695
  26. ^ Grazulis, pg. 737
  27. ^ Grazulis, pg. 752
  28. ^ Grazulis, pg. 915

Book reference

  • Grazulis, Thomas P (July 1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680–1991. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN  1-879362-03-1.

External links