Deadliest disasters in history

As the dead toll of the Coronavirus continues to rise all around the world, a question arrives. How many deaths can we expect to see when all of this is over?

Recently the US Government predicted a best case scenario of 200.000 American fatalities and a worst case of 2.000.000. Comparing this to the almost 3.000 deaths of 9/11 and 2.400 of Pearl Harbor, even compared to the 400.000 american fatalities during the Second World War this shapes up to be one of the deadliest disasters in American history.

Predicting the total global fatalities of this crisis is impossible as we are still in the early faces of the crisis and many experts also predict a global second wave of deaths.

However we can look at other deadly crisis throughout history and observe how they played out, and why they became so deadly.

Mongol conquest 1206-1368

At its height the Mongol Empire spanned from modern day Korea to Poland. Covering an incredible 36.000.000 Square kilometers or more than 16% of earth’s surface.

This incredible feat of conquest was completed in under 100 years, thanks to the innovate and deadly Mongol warfare tactics.

It goes without saying, that this conquest was not peaceful. However often castles and citadels would simply open their gates and pay tribute, the moment they spotted the Mongol hordes approaching.

This was the result of the reputation that the Mongols had built for themselves. Every Lord and King had heard the tales of the rape, slaughter and destruction the Mongols inflicted upon their enemies.

Genghis Khan is supposed to have said: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters”. This serves as a explanation in itself to why the Mongol conquests of Eurasia was so deadly.

Lowest death toll estimate: 30.000.000

Highest death toll estimate: 57.000.000

European conquest of the Americas

This deadly event in human history shares a terrible connection to the crisis we face today. That is because the vast majority of the natives in the Americas didn’t die from the direct European conquest in wars and battles. However they died from the diseases that the European conquers carried with them.

The European lifestyle of the middle ages had included a much closer contact with domesticated animals and the diseases that these animals carried. This gave the Europeans a immune system much more capable of combating germs and diseases.

This way of life stood in contrast to that of the native americans. So upon contact, large disease outbreaks of smallpox, typhus and influenza began spreading rapidly among the natives, with deadly effect. Some estimate that around 90% of the native american population died due to disease, in the years following the early contact with Europeans.

However due to the lack of credible sources at the time, it is difficult to estimate the exact effects of European diseases upon the natives. However the rapid Spanish conquest of the massive empires of the Aztecs and Incas, serves as evidence of the devastating effects of these diseases.

Lowest death toll estimate: 8.400.000

Highest death toll estimate: 138.000.000

Second World War

Wars have always been some of the deadliest events in human history. Since they often broad both deaths on the battlefield and among civilians. However the Second World War took this to extreme new heights.

The massive technological and administrative advancements of the early 20th century was used to murder on a industrial scale. The Japanese conquest of China, The Holocaust and Operation Barbarossa are all example of this colossal new deadliness of warfare.

The global scale of the conflict didn’t help either, from France to China the war ravaged, there was no escaping the bloodshed.

Some countries suffered more than others though. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost around 30.000.000 its citizens during the war, and China around 25.000.000. However these were both countries with relatively large populations.

Poland on the other hand lost only somewhere around 6.000.000 people during the war, however this is estimated to be around 20% of the countries prewar population.

In just 6 years earth lost around 3% of its population due to this conflict, something never seen before throughout human history. A testament to the deadliness of the war.

Lowest death toll estimate: 60.000.000

Highest death toll estimate: 118.000.000

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