10 Most Destructive Storms


Daulatpur-Saturia, Bangladesh Tornado

Often the severity of a natural disaster derives from the poverty, poor construction standards or population density of the area it strikes. As evidenced by both the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the poor are less healthy, less able to get out of the way of oncoming disasters, more likely to live in shelters that are vulnerable to natural forces and to lack the resources to deal with a disaster's aftermath.

On April 26, 1989, a tornado touched down in the Manikganj district of Bangladesh -- one of the world's most densely populated countries. It swept eastward from the Daulatpur area into the severely drought-stricken areas of Saturia and Manikganj Sadar, cutting a swath 10 miles (16 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide. Although its duration and extent weren't especially large, the twister obliterated every structure within a radius of 2.5 square miles (6 square kilometers) [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica].

In the course of its brief rampage, the storm destroyed more than 20 villages, gusting residents, homes and livestock away. It also pummeled the landscape with rain and hail, threatening what few crops had survived the preceding drought [source: Associated Press]. When the scattered residents were accounted for, the tornado was found to have caused nearly 1,300 deaths, making it the deadliest tornado in recorded history [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]. In the aftermath, central Bangladesh fell victim to widespread hunger and disease [source: Reuters].

In a grimly ironic twist, the tornado appeared just hours after then President Hussain Muhammad Ershad called upon the nation to pray for rain [source: Associated Press].