The Worst Tornadoes in History

It's always tragic to lose lives from natural disasters like tornadoes, but these are particularly bad - they are the worst tornadoes in history, each claiming hundreds of lives in a matter of minutes. From the most recent, current cyclones to those of the past, sadly, this list names them all. With death tolls reaching tragic proportions, these are not only the worst cyclones environmentally, they're also the deadliest.

Though tornadoes and other natural disasters do not discriminate, the deadliest tornadoes have struck the most in the Asian country of Bangladesh. Each year, the country of around 160 million people generally sees strong, violent and often deadly tornadoes. The regional topography makes this area a hotbed for twisters and unfortunately makes the country a target for some of the deadliest tornadoes in world history. 

In fact the two deadliest tornadoes on record, which killed over 2,000 people in total, occurred in Bangladesh. The worst tornado ever, which hit Daultipur and Saturia, occurred in 1989 and claimed the lives of around 1,300 while the second deadliest was only as far back as in 1996, taking the lives of around 700 when it traveled from Madarganj to Mirzapur.

In addition to being the biggest tornados ever, these twisters caused millions of dollars in damages and injured thousands of others. Sadly, this is common among natural disasters. The same can be said for other disasters such as the worst volcanic eruptions in history and the worst tsunamis in history, among others.

What are the worst tornadoes in history? Take a look here and you'll see.


  • Oklahoma Tornado of 2013

    Downed power lines, hissing gas pipes and immense devastation stood in the way of rescuers searching systematically for survivors and victims of a massive tornado that pulverized a vast swath of the Oklahoma City suburbs on May 20, 2013.

    The Monday afternoon storm carved a trail through the area as much as 20 miles long. Hardest hit was Moore, Oklahoma -- a suburban town of about 58,000.

    Helicopter images showed large tracts of Moore completely leveled by what the National Weather Service says was at least an EF-4 tornado with winds in excess of 166 mph. The tornado remained on the ground for 40 minutes.

    The state medical examiner's office declared 24 people dead. More than 230 people were injured in the storm.

  • The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado

    Killing an estimated 1,300 people in a matter of minutes, the Daulatpur-Saturia tornado is believed to be the deadliest tornado on record. The twister hit the Manikganj District, Bangladesh, on April 26, 1989, at around 6:30 p.m. local time.

    Prior to the tornado, a drought had been in effect for several months, one factor that is believed to intensify tornadic conditions. Unsurprisingly, the tornado completely leveled the already barren land, uprooting trees and leveling an area spanning one mile wide, the estimated size of the tornado.

    Overall, around 12,000 people were injured by the tornado and a total of 80,000, mostly in the towns of Saturia and Manikganj, which were completely destroyed, were left homeless.

  • Madarganj to Mirzapur Tornado
    Photo: NOAA Photo Library, OAR/ERL/NSSL / NASA / Public Domain

    Madarganj to Mirzapur Tornado

    As one of the most recent of the deadliest tornadoes in history, an estimated 700 people perished after a huge tornado touched down from Madarganj to Mirzapur in Bangladesh on May 13, 1996. While the number of injuries were not known, the 700 deaths from the single twister make this the second single deadliest tornado on record.

    As the tornado traveled south from Madarganj to Mirzapur in Bangladesh, a distance of over 100 kilometers, it also destroyed an estimated 30,000 homes. 

  • The Tri-State Tornado
    Photo: A Herald Examiner journalist / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Tri-State Tornado

    Coming in as the third deadliest tornado ever and the deadliest tornado to hit the United States, the Tri-State Tornado is one for the record books. More than doubling the number of deaths from the previous record, set in 1840 when the Great Natchez Tornado killed 317, the Tri-State Tornado claimed 695 lives on Wednesday, March 18, 1925.

    Hitting the highest rating on the Fujita scale, an F5, the Tri-State Tornado lasted 3.5 hours.

     The main twister, which caused the most deaths, started in Missouri, moved through Illinois and ended its run in Indiana. 

  • The Manikganj, Singair and Nawabganj Tornado

    Named after the three main areas that were destroyed in its path, the Manikganj, Singair and Nawabganj Tornado took the likes of 681 people on April 17, 1973. The tornado practically destroyed nine towns, including the entire village of Balurchar.

    The 681 fatalities rose as much as over 1,000 in some unofficial death tolls. 

    When using the confirmed death toll of 681, the Manikganj, Singair and Nawabganj Tornado is ranked as the fourth deadliest in recorded history. 


  • The Valletta, Malta, Tornado

    Easily the oldest tornado to cause massive damage and claim a high number of lives, the Valletta, Malta, Tornado killed over 600 when it struck the Grand Harbour of Malta. As the tornado took place so long ago, sources are conflicting regarding when the tornado actually hit, but it is agreed that it occurred in the 1550s.