Every year there are thousands of avalanches and most of them are caused deliberately by us humans because the science and study of avalanches has advanced far enough to detect where they might happen and then cause them to fall when no-one is around. Sadly that doesn’t always happen and now and again there are people in the way. These are the ten worst avalanche disasters the world has ever seen (so far anyway) and they go on the number of fatalities they caused…
The Top 10 Worse Avalanche Disasters the World Has Seen So Far
10 – Death toll estimate: 138
The Gayari Sector avalanche of 2018 took place in a Pakistani military base and trapped soldiers and civilians under several hundred tonnes of snow. It was the worst avalanche that the Pakistani military has experienced in the area.
9 – Death toll estimate: 155
Way back in 1918 the Mitsumata village avalanche hit and was caused by several weeks of heavy snow. It might not have been that bad if it hadn’t have divided by a ridge cedar forest thus causing it to go for two part of the village instead of just one.
8 – Death toll estimate: 172
In 2010 the Salang Avalanches was a series of at least 36 avalanches and probably one of the worse I read about. Basically, one avalanche blocked the entrance of the Salang tunnel and another one blocked the exit and sadly anyone inside was killed due to the lack of oxygen.
7 – Death toll estimate: 200
This event was called the ‘Lahaul Valley avalanche’ and it took place in India 1973. A total of 3 or more avalanched took out the entire village killing anyone or destroying anything in its path.
6 – Death toll estimate: 201
The exact numbers of the 2012 Afghanistan avalanches are hard to gauge with only 56 people confirmed dead and another 145 presumed dead. A total of 3 avalanches struck the Badakhshan province of northeastern Afghanistan sadly taking several whole villages out then several helpers who had come to their rescue.
5 – Death toll estimate: 265
Back in 1951, a total of 649 avalanches took place between Austria and Switzerland and they called it the ‘Winter of Terror’. Taking place over a three-month period there was almost not a single day where one didn’t fall. During this event, the Swiss town of Andermatt in the Adula Alps was hit by no less than six avalanches within a 60-minute period!
4 – Death toll estimate: 310
The Afghanistan avalanches took place over 4 days in February 2015 and totalled 40 avalanches in Panjshir Province. Caused by heavy snowstorms in the area it fell, caused people to rush to help those involved then sadly kept on falling. In the end, thousands of Afghani troops were deployed to try and help with several of them again losing their lives.
3 – Death toll estimate: 4,000
The Huascarán avalanche in 1962 was to be the first of 2 major events to take place in the same location several years apart. Located in Peru Huascarán is a formidable mountain that is often home to some of the worlds biggest avalanches. But even this cataclysmic event wasn’t the largest to happen in the same location.
2 – Death toll estimate: 10,000
This ‘event’ was called White Friday and it took place in Italy way back in 1916 during World War I. But this was no natural disaster with several of the survivors saying it was caused by enemy (German) shells being fired into the mountainside to cause them.
1 – Death toll estimate: 20,000
Triggered by the 1970 Ancash earthquake the Huascarán avalanche was the worse the world has ever seen. Located in Peru Huascarán is the fourth highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere so when it dropped it sadly took most the villages located in the valleys as well as several tourist hot spots. There were no warnings, no signs of an impending avalanche and no escape from its path. But luckily lessons where indeed learned from that terrible disaster and we shouldn’t see anything of this magnitude ever again.