The juggernaut of more than 30 tornadoes across four states ranks among the most deadly tornado disasters in the United States in many decades. The United States has the most tornadoes, with an average of 1,225 twisters annually from 1999 to 2018, according to the Weather Channel. But tornadoes have hit elsewhere, causing death and destruction.
Here’s a look at some of the most devastating tornado events around the world in recent decades:
Marking the world’s deadliest tornado on record, the Daulatpur-Saturia tornado in central Bangladesh in April 1989 was an estimated 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) wide and left a nearly 49-mile “path of death,” reported Al Jazeera. In its wake: at least 1,300 people left dead, 12,000 injured and 80,000 homeless, according to official counts.
“I saw black clouds gathering in the sky,” Sayeda Begum, a 30-year-old resident of the village of Saturia in Bangladesh’s Dhaka Division, told the Associated Press in 1989. “In moments we found we were flying along with the house.”
Bangladesh, Al Jazeera notes, has a much shorter tornado season than the United States — but it’s often far deadlier. The nation has logged several of the most deadly tornadoes on record. That’s in part because the nation lacks effective warning systems and tornado shelters, and is home to many buildings unable to withstand the tornadoes’ intense winds.
Other tornadoes that have hit Bangladesh hard include a 1973 tornado that killed at least 681 people, a 1977 tornado that killed 500, and a 1996 tornado that killed more than 700 people in north-central Bangladesh.
India, 1993 and 1998
In 1993, a tornado roared through five villages near Kandi in eastern India, killing an estimated 125 people. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed.
“I saw the storm coming and took shelter at a roadside house,” 35-year-old Nasreen Begum, told the Associated Press after the storm. “Suddenly, there was a deafening noise and the house collapsed with all of us trapped inside.”
In 1998, a tornado reached winds up to 115 mph and killed more than 100 people near West Bengal state. A cyclone had occurred the day before. The back-to-back storms flattened hundreds of homes and destroyed crops, the AP reported.
Soviet Union, 1984
In 1984, the Soviet Union was struck with a massive tornado — accompanied by hailstones weighing more than two pounds. At least eight tornadoes were confirmed in regions north of Moscow. Known as the “Ivanovo Tornado Outbreak,” the exact death toll was unclear. Soviet authorities officially confirmed 69 deaths, but some diplomats estimated that at least 400 were killed, researchers note.
The tornadoes tore away roofs, uprooted trees and overturned heavy railroad cars and buses, Russian researchers described. “A 50-ton water tower tank was thrown 200 m[eters] onto its side,” the researchers wrote in a 1985 paper.
On Nov. 23, 1981, more than 100 tornadoes were recorded in less than six hours, moving west to east across Britain. There were no recorded casualties. Most of the tornadoes that touched ground were less severe, causing some property damage.