Inevitable Natural Disasters in History

Fareeha Arshad
Vesuvius from PompeiiWikimedia Commons

Hours, if not minutes before any disaster strikes, there are warning signs that are usually not hard to miss. If not warning signs, nature sends out signals that cannot be overlooked. Let’s look at some of such disasters when we missed out on the pre-disaster signs and therefore caught us unaware.

1. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius

In 79 A.D., the mighty Mount Vesuvius exploded and destroyed Pompeii, the ancient city of Rome. Though this came as a surprise for the residents, the eruption was not ‘sudden’ at all. Other cities around Mount Vesuvius had undergone a similar fate as that of Pompeii.

Days before the deathly disaster, there were signs from nature that people surely missed. The grounds repeatedly shook for short durations for several days while the mountains made evil sounds. The sea around the city gave out boiling water, and the animals ran away from the land. Yet, despite these obvious signs, the people of Pompeii lived an oblivious life until the fateful day.

2. The tsunami and earthquake of 2004

On 26th December 2004, a massive tsunami engulfed coastal areas of fourteen different Asian and African countries and killed over half a million people. Apart from losing their loved ones, millions of people lost their homes when the 9.2 magnitude earthquake was followed by a tsunami that caught people by ‘surprise’. However, the disasters were not unexpected at all.

When the first signs of the groundbreaking earthquake were observed, warnings were issued that warned many Asian countries of the impending doom. Though most countries were aware of the risk that would follow, the government did not take immediate action. Natives were not warned of what would incur. Post-earthquake, when the sea started receding, more people ran towards the coast to observe what would happen.

Little did they know that what would follow would be perhaps the worst day of their lives.

3. The eruption of Mount Tarawera
Mount TaraweraWikimedia Commons

In the late 1880s, strange activities were observed near Mount Tarawera in New Zealand. The natives of the closeby Maori villages thought that they saw bizarre ‘canoes’ over the lakes. They believed these ‘spirit’ boats to carry the souls of the dead towards Mount Tarawera — because these boats never responded to their signals.

In 1886 the mountain exploded and killed hundreds of people and destroyed the Maori villages. It turns out that the ‘floating boats’ were an illusion created because of boiling water in the area — an unmistakable signal of an unavoidable volcanic eruption that would follow.

What are some of the other historical inevitable natural disasters you know about that could have been avoided? Do let us know in the comments section.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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