5 deadliest storms that changed the course of asian history

How can a typhoon change the course of history?

In the past centuries the Pacific ring of fire was a mainstay in catastrophic natural disaster headlines. It surely shaped nations’ identities, cultures and political models.

Like how tropical storms inspired Japan’s infamous tradition of Kamikaze which literally translates “The Divine Wind.” Tropical storms may also be the reason why Taiwan is part of China despite the strong tribal links to the Ivatans of Northern Philippines. It changed the course of history in the past and it will in the future.

The devastation of Haiyan may have different impacts to the future of the Philippines. It may expedite the international initiatives on global warming, or it may enlighten the citizens to change how they choose their next leaders, it may even make a region revolt against a screwed-up government leading Visayas to be the youngest state of  USA. LOLJK

Here are the 5 deadliest storms that changed the course of Asian history:


Irrawaddy Delta, Myanmar
Landfall : May 2, 2008
Wind : 165 km/h
Fatalities: 140,000

How it changed the course of history:

Closed to the outside world with military junta and the nationwide social media ban, international help were hurdled. As the aftermath revealed rising number of casualties, negotiations by UN Secretary General resulted in the opening of Myanmar to aid workers, regardless of nationality.

But despite the wake of the national calamity, the junta still proceeded with a previously scheduled (May 10, 2008) constitutional referendum. This led to objections raised by the Burmese opposition parties and foreign nations. blah blah blah to make the long story short, Aung San Suu Kyi with the opposition and international support led the country to the election of 2010. Military junta was later dissolved in 2011 consequently opening a democratic Myanmar to the rest of the world as manifested by Obama’s visit in Yangon, the aggressive tourism campaigns in 2012 and… err.. sending a candidate to the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

 (Photo by christianholstphotography.com)


Henan Province, China
Landfall : August 6, 1975
Wind : 250 km/h
Fatalities: 229,000

How it changed the course of history:

The cause of fatalities of Super Typhoon Nina was not because of the strong gust but the amount of water it poured, causing the collapse of Banqiao Dam releasing water amounting to 280,000 olympic swimming pools obliterating towns and cities along the Huai River.

After the deadliest dam failure in history, engineering courses throughout the world are required to brave another syllabus on history of dam and construction methods. Making engineering students say with utter pun–“Dam it!”


(Photo from indiatvnews.com)


Tongkin/Haiphong Vietnam
Landfall : October 8, 1881
Wind : Unknown
Fatalities: 300,000

How it changed the course of history:

On the eve of French conquest of Vietnam in 1881, the super typhoon hit the Gulf of Tongkin bringing meters of storm surge that washed down the cultural town of Haiphong.

The aftermath of the typhoon paved way for the French army to work on a blank canvass to build the Indochina sea port that will later be the biggest in the region. It played a huge role in the Sino-French war of the late 19th century, industrialization in pre-WWII and why our Addidas, Nike and TNF are all made in Vietnam.

(Photo from wikipedia.com)


East Godavari, India
Landfall : November 16, 1839
Wind : Unknown
Fatalities: 300,000

How it changed the course of history:

Coringa was once was a bustling port city. Until it was slammed by a disastrous typhoon that delivered terrible winds and a giant 12 meter storm surge. The port was destroyed (some 20,000 vessels were lost) and 300,000 people were killed. The survivors then moved to town further up and Coringa was never fully rebuilt. The old port today remains a simple village with mangroves and wildlife sanctuary.

Henry Piddington, an official of the British East India Company, coined the term “cyclone” sometime around 1840 after looking at the destruction caused in East Godavari.

(Photo from kannadigaworld.com)


Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh
Landfall : November 8, 1970
Wind : 205 km/h
Fatalities: 500,000

How it changed the course of history:

A category 3 storm from the Bay of Bengal and bad timing of high tide caused a devastating storm surge that killed half a million East Pakistanis. Separated from mainland Pakistan with subcontinent India, help from the government came too late and inadequate that the people’s beliefs against the west were reinforced.  The ruling party suffered at the polls and they lost the election.  East Pakistani politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected leader of the entire nation.  This eventually led to political crisis and the Liberation War of 1971 giving birth to now Bangladesh.

(Photo from indiatvnews.com) 

In a nutshell, if these weather disturbances never materialized, history may have taken a different paths toward a series of events.

In an alternate universe sans storms: India could now be struggling to keep their territories from West and East Pakistan; Chinese small communities could still be keeping their tribal land rights along the gorges and rivers across China;  Coringa could now be a densely populated sea port and the endemic Indian Long Billed Vulture may have been extinct for decades now; The city of Hai Phong may have had a full army that resisted the French occupation of the Delta, thus paralyzing the colonization of Indochina; Myanmar may still be closed under the military junta and Michael Learns to Rock is not holding their concerts there now.

Hipsters may see it as the butterfly effect to either a better or worse equilibria, but no matter what we do, the will of the wind will still prevail and we can only adjust our sails and navigate with it.


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  • Stella S., Cebu Beaches

    November 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

    The numbers are appalling. What happened to the Philippines recently is something that will certainly go down in history. Earthquakes, typhoons, and whatnot . . . we seem to be plagued by all these natural events at once. I can see people tossing the blame on each other, and indeed much could have been done. But I believe it is best to help first those who have been affected instead of putting a premium on mudslinging. And the relief goods with campaign signs on them, god that makes me sick.

  • flipntravels

    December 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I am disgusted by the trapos and the way they do their business… it’s about time we should kick them out of power

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