Five deadliest hurricanes as toll from Hurricane Maria raised

by Ava Meyer | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 12:16 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Hurricane Mitch, one of the fiercest Atlantic storms on record, is shown off the Yucatan Peninsula in this National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radar satellite image taken October 27, 1998. REUTERS/Handout

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The Great Hurricane in 1780 was the deadliest on record, killing about 20,000 people in the Caribbean

By Ava Meyer

LONDON, Aug 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Puerto Rico has raised the official death toll from Hurricane Maria to nearly 3,000 following a study ordered by the governor of the U.S. territory.

The report found an estimated 2,975 deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in almost a century, from the time it struck in September 2017 to mid-February this year.

Following is a list of the world's five most deadly hurricanes. Hurricanes form over the Atlantic and North Pacific oceans and cause most damage to the Americas while typhoons form in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, impacting Asia.

The number of fatalities varies between sources.

1. The Great Hurricane, Caribbean, 1780 - Death toll 20,000

The deadliest hurricane on record cost the lives of about 20,000 people, with most of the damage and fatalities occurring in Barbados and surrounding islands. Predating modern meteorological technology, the formation point and exact wind strengths of the hurricane are unknown.

2. Hurricane Mitch, Central America, 1998 - Death toll 19,000

Hurricane Mitch reportedly killed about 19,000 people. Classified as a Category 5 - the highest ranking on the Saffir-Simpson scale - the greatest number of fatalities was in Honduras where severe rainfall led to mud slides and flooding.

3. Galveston Hurricane, Texas, 1900 - Death toll between 6,000-12,000

The Galveston Hurricane caused the greatest number of deaths on the U.S. mainland. Ranked as a Category 4, the disaster ruined the town's commercial industry and its status as a major port whilst claiming the lives of up to 12,000 inhabitants.

4. Hurricane Fifi, Honduras, 1974 - Death toll 8,000-10,000

Hurricane Fifi is the lowest measured hurricane included on this list but it proved to be deadly and destructive for the island of Honduras. The name Fifi was removed from the rotating list of hurricane names due to high number of fatalities.

5. Dominican Republic Hurricane, Caribbean, 1930 - Death toll 2,000-8,000

Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic. The island struggled to provide effective and quick relief to its citizens and for its infrastructure.

Sources; National Ocean Service, World Heritage Encyclopaedia, National Hurricane Center

(Reporting by Ava Meyer, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

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