The Most Famous Disasters: A Ranking of History's Most Notorious Catastrophes

Choose the disasters you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 23, 2024 06:55
Unleash your inner historian and join us at StrawPoll, where we've crafted a thrilling ranking of the most famous disasters that have shaken the world to its core! Our extensive collection covers everything from catastrophic natural calamities to tragic man-made disasters that have left lasting legacies. Step into the eye of the storm and cast your vote for the most infamous disaster, or make history by suggesting an impactful event we've missed. Don't wait for the dust to settle - dive into the chaos and explore the stories that have defined generations. The power is in your hands to decide which disaster reigns supreme, so head over to StrawPoll now and let your voice be heard!

Who Are the Most Famous Disasters?

  1. 1
    The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is one of the most famous disasters in history. The ship sank on its maiden voyage, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives.
    Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
    • Release date: December 19, 1997
    • Running time: 195 minutes
    • Budget: $200 million
    • Box office: $2.2 billion
    • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart
  2. 2
    The Hindenburg disaster in 1937, where a German airship caught fire and crashed, killing 36 people, is another well-known disaster.
  3. 3
    The Chernobyl disaster in 1986, where a nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and released radioactive material into the environment, is one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.
    Chernobyl is a historical drama television miniseries that depicts the events surrounding the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster that took place in April 1986. It portrays the aftermath of the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine, as well as the efforts of scientists, government officials, and workers to contain and mitigate the disaster. The show offers a realistic and harrowing portrayal of the human cost and the political and bureaucratic challenges faced by those involved in the crisis.
    • Genre: Historical drama
    • Country of origin: United States
    • Original language: English
    • No. of episodes: 5
    • Running time: 60-72 minutes
  4. 4
    The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, where hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, killing almost 3,000 people, is a tragic and well-known event.
  5. 5
    Hurricane Katrina
    NASA · Public domain
    In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing over 1,800 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
  6. 6
    The Challenger disaster in 1986, where the space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all seven crew members, was a shocking event that captured the attention of the world.
  7. 7
    The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD that buried the city of Pompeii is a famous disaster that has fascinated people for centuries.
    Pompeii is an ancient Roman city located near modern-day Naples in Italy. It was a bustling and prosperous city until it was tragically buried under volcanic ash and debris during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The preserved remains of Pompeii provide an extraordinary glimpse into daily life in ancient Rome.
    • Location: Naples, Italy
    • Period: Founded in the 8th century BC, destroyed in 79 AD
    • Discovery: Rediscovered in 1599, major excavations began in the 18th century
    • Size: Covered an area of approximately 163 acres (66 hectares)
    • Architecture: Predominantly Roman with influences from other ancient civilizations
  8. 8
    In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska caused widespread ecological damage and is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history.
  9. 9
    The Fukushima disaster in 2011, where a Japanese nuclear power plant was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, resulted in the release of radioactive material and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.
  10. 10
    The Bhopal disaster in 1984, where a gas leak from a pesticide plant in India killed thousands of people and injured many more, is one of the worst industrial disasters in history.

Missing your favorite disasters?


About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous disasters. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or disaster is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 176 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each disaster once every 24 hours. The rank of each disaster is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous disasters

Background Information: The Most Famous Disasters Disasters have been a part of human history since the beginning of time. From natural calamities like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis to man-made disasters such as industrial accidents and terrorist attacks, the world has seen its fair share of catastrophes. Some disasters have become more famous than others, either due to their scale, impact, or the number of lives lost. The most famous disasters in history have left a lasting impact on humanity, and continue to be remembered for their tragedy and the lessons they taught us. One of the most famous disasters of all time is the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The Titanic, deemed "unsinkable," hit an iceberg during its maiden voyage and sank, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives. The disaster has been immortalized in books, movies, and documentaries, and continues to fascinate people worldwide. Another famous disaster is the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. The explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine released radioactive material into the environment, causing widespread contamination and resulting in many deaths and illnesses. The disaster remains one of the worst nuclear accidents in history and highlights the dangers of nuclear power. More recently, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 became a defining moment in modern history. The attacks, which involved four coordinated terrorist strikes, resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and had a profound impact on global politics and security. These are

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