10 times Mother Nature wreaked havoc in 2018

26 December 2018 - 09:00
By TimesLIVE
Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, US, on May 13 2018.
Image: Reuters/Terray Sylvester Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, US, on May 13 2018.

When Mother Nature gets angry there's usually astonishing damage and a tragic number of lives lost.

Here are 10 natural disasters that left chaos in their wake this year.

1. Indonesia quake and tsunami

A powerful earthquake and tsunami devastated Palu city on Sulawesi, Indonesia, at the end of September, killing more than 2,000 people.

After the magnitude 7.5-quake and a subsequent tsunami destroyed large parts of Palu, there were around 5,000 people missing. Their bodies were thought to be buried underneath the wreckage, and the search and rescue operation was eventually called off.

2. Lombok earthquakes

Indonesia suffered earlier misery in August when an earthquake in Lombok killed at least 481 people.

Tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across the island had been destroyed by the 6.9-magnitude quake on August 5.

A week before that quake, a tremor surged through the island and killed 17 people.

At the end of August a string of fresh tremors left at least 10 more people dead.  

3. Floods in Japan 

Record rainfall devastated parts of western and central Japan in July, with floods and landslides killing more than 220 people. 

The torrential rain unleashed floods and landslides that destroyed large parts of neighbourhoods. 

4. Japanese heatwave

Japan's hardship continued in July when the floods were followed by a record-breaking heatwave. 

Several dozen people died from heatstroke. In one week alone, at least 65 people passed away, while tens of thousands were hospitalised. 

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike compared it to "living in a sauna".

5. Wildfires in Greece

The scorching global temperatures in July also lead to Greece's deadliest wildfires in recent history. The death toll reached at least 94. 

People fled to the sea to try and escape the flames as those reduced forests to ash and devoured buildings. 

6. California wildfires

At least 88 people died when wildfires obliterated the mountain town of Paradise, California, in November. 

An estimated 13,000 buildings were damaged as the fire scorched 150,000 acres (607kmĀ²) of land.

The fires were described as the deadliest in the history of California.

The high death toll was partly due to the speed with which the flames spread, driven by strong winds and fuelled by drought-desiccated scrubs and trees.

7. Guatemalan volcano

Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted five times this year, sending bursts of ash and lava down the mountain.

In June, an eruption killed 194 people and swept away villages.

The eruptions forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Thick plumes of ash stretched for kilometres across the sky, while nearby towns were covered in a blanket of ash and volcanic rock.

8. Hawaiian volcano

In May, the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island lasted weeks and destroyed hundreds of homes.

It is the most destructive volcanic eruption in the United States since the 1980 explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

The molten rock engulfed roughly 600 homes. Around 2,800 residents were forced to flee. 

In addition to lava and toxic sulphur dioxide gas spewing from the volcano, explosions of ash created a health hazard to communities downwind.

9. US hurricanes

Hurricanes Florence and Michael left a devastating toll in the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle.

In October, Michael decimated everything in its path from Panama City to Mexico Beach. The storm was linked with 60 deaths. It was the strongest hurricane on record to affect the Florida Panhandle.

Florence turned communities into lakes in North Carolina and 53 deaths were blamed on the hurricane. Both North Carolina and South Carolina broke their rainfall records for tropical cyclone events, which resulted in heavy flooding. 

10. Nigerian floods

Around 200 people died in flooding caused by heavy seasonal rains across 12 states in Nigeria in September.

Within weeks dozens more died from cholera outbreaks. The raging water also left hundreds of thousands homeless. 

Fears of a food shortage across the country rose after more than 120,000 hectares of farmland was damaged, with crops and livestock being lost.