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10 of the Lesser-Known Devastating Events in History

Devastating Events in History

History witnessed the journey of civilization and we have seen the same through the eyes of history. But there are chapters that are lesser-known devastating events in history. Here is the list of 10 such incidents. Have a look!

1. Galveston was one of the largest cities in Texas and a major cultural and shipping hub until the deadliest natural disaster in United States history devastated it. “The Great Storm” of 1900 destroyed 3,600 Galveston buildings and killed over 6,000 residents.

Galveston The Great Storm
Galveston Hurricane – Sept. 1900. Image credits: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

The Galveston Hurricane in the 1900s was the deadliest and worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The great storm destroyed 7,000 buildings that included 3,636 residential structures. Nearly 10,000 people were homeless and 6,000 to 12,000 people lost their lives.

The punishing winds were estimated to be around 145 mph (230 kph) at landfall on September 8th. The rising tides flooded the entire island under eight to 15 feet of water. The survivor’s first-hand accounts were preserved by the Rosenberg Library and Museum in Galveston, Texas.

The stories include slaked tiles being ripped apart from roofs and turned into deadly projectiles by the wind. Entire homes were swept apart from their foundations into the ocean or slammed into the neighboring houses.

The property damaged in the storm was estimated at around 20 to 35 million dollars in the 1900s representing over a billion dollars in today’s value. Although the great storm brought this booming city to its knees, the people of Galveston started to rebuild and fortify.

They constructed a seawall bolstered by granite boulders 17 feet high six miles long to protect the city from future storms. (1, 2)

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2. The deadliest conflict since the Second World War was the Second Congo War (1998 – 2003) which has caused more than five million deaths. Hostilities continued until 2018.

Congo Soldier
Soldier with machine gun and Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a military uniform. Image credit: Bumble Dee/ Shutterstock

The Democratic Republic of the Congo witnessed the most brutal conflict after the Second World War. It is even called the “Second African World War” or the “Great War of Africa,” one of the most devastating incidents in history. The conflict was initiated in August 1998 and saw its official end in July 2003.

It took the lives of more than five million civilians due to starvation and attacks of deadly diseases. This also happens to be the widest possible interstate conflict in the history of Africa where nine African countries had taken part along with approximately twenty armed forces. The war broke out due to the emergence of colonial forces during the ruling period of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Moreover, there was the aftermath of the recently ended First Congo War and the deadly Rwandan Genocide in 1994. After five long years of dark days, the war ended because of the formation of the Traditional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, a peace agreement was signed in 2002. There were several reports of brutality and violence throughout African nations. (source)

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3. People of Hawaii who were diagnosed with leprosy were forcibly banished to Kalaupapa to live out the rest of their lives, compelling their friends and families to arrange a “living funeral” throwing dirt thrown on them; This continued through 1969 even after Hawaii officially became a state.

Hawaii- Leprosy
Joseph Dutton worked as a missionary at Kalaupapa pictured with patients (Image to the left), The dispensary where patients were once treated. Image credit: Edition CNN

In the mid- to late-1800s, leprosy had become an incurable epidemic in the Hawaiian Islands. This is considered one of the most devastating incidents in history. There was very little understanding of the disease in that period. Beyond its debilitating effects like nerve damage, loss of muscle control, blindness, sores on the skin, it also caused limb damage causing the need for amputation.

Leprosy, also known as “Hansen’s disease,” really freaked out Europeans and Americans. They were disgusted by the visual representation of disease. The White missionaries and businessmen living in Hawaii used their sway with the government to essentially criminalize leprosy.

The act to prevent the spread of leprosy in 1866 called for the exiling of the person suffering from the disease. They set apart quarantine land on the sparsely populated island of Molokai. Those who had the disease were rounded up, arrested, and some were even captured by bounty hunters. They were ripped from their homes and families and taken to a hospital for testing, after which they are declared clean, suspect, or a leper.

If a person is declared leper, that person is sent to Kalaupapa to die. Many families are torn apart by the quarantine, and they never met each other again. This act continued even after the vaccines were invented, and Hawaii officially became a state. (1, 2)

4. The Battle of Attu was one of the most devastating incidents in history that took place between the U.S. forces and the Japanese Army during World War II. The Aleutian tribes were victims of a lot of torture by the Japanese troops and now they are on the verge of extinction.

Attu
U.S. troops landing on Attu (Image to the left), Div. Artillery camp at Front Radios and Telephone on Jeep, Alaska Attu. Image credits: Sergeant George F. Noland/Armyhistory.org, Kodiak.org

The battle of Attu remains in the history of World War II as one of the most remarkable acts. It is the only ground battle fought during World War II that took place on American territory. The battle was fought between U.S. forces and the deadly Japanese Army with intense bloodshed using grenades, samurai swords, and bayonets.

The war took place from May 11th to May 30th of 1943 and lasted for only a couple of weeks. But, the brutality and destruction during the war was something to be recalled forever by both Japanese soldiers and the U.S. Army.

The war broke out when the Japanese troops invaded the Alaskan island of Attu where the Aleutian tribes had resided for centuries. The Japanese troops marched into the frostbitten lands of Attu village and shot down the natives and non-natives.

Moreover, they loaded the native Aleutians and shipped them back to Japan, and made them work like animals in POW camps. When the war ended, the survivors were sent back to their villages only to find their homes burnt down. Now the Attu villagers remain scattered and almost on the verge of extinction. (source)

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5. Baghdad, one of the biggest and most vibrant cities in the world in the 1200s, was attacked by Mongols and almost destroyed by them. After almost complete destruction, the civilization took quite a few centuries to stand up and get going again.

Baghdad
Al-Mustansiriya school in Baghdad (Image to the left), Mongol attack. Image credits: Rasoul Ali/Shutterstock

Baghdad had been established in 762 CE by Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur. Throughout history, it has been the capital of the Muslims as well as the world in general. The House of Wisdom was established soon after the city was built. It was a magnet for scientists, thinkers, mathematicians, and linguists around the world.

But by the 1200s, the Abbasid Caliphate was nothing but a shell of its former self having no power outside Baghdad. In 1258, the Mongols arrived with an army estimated at over 150,000 soldiers and stood before the city.

The siege began in mid-January and lasted around two weeks. On the 10th of February, the Mongols entered the city. They showed no mercy in destroying and ransacking mosques, hospitals, libraries, and palaces. The books from Baghdad’s libraries were thrown into the Tigris River in such quantities that the river ran black from the books’ ink.

The loss of lives was estimated at around 200,000 to one million people who were butchered during that one week. Baghdad was left completely depopulated and inhabitable. It would take centuries for Baghdad to regain prominence and population and become an important city again in the world. (1, 2)

Also read: 12 Dark Historical Events Not Known by Many People

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