Humanities › History & Culture The World's 5 Deadliest Tornadoes In some cases, the death toll might have been higher than reported Share Flipboard Email Print Comfreak/Pixabay History & Culture American History Crimes & Disasters Basics Important Historical Figures Key Events U.S. Presidents Native American History American Revolution America Moves Westward The Gilded Age The Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Bridget Johnson Political Journalist B.S., Criminology, California State University Fresno Journalist Bridget Johnson has covered news and foreign policy for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and more. She is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. our editorial process Bridget Johnson Updated August 14, 2019 A funnel cloud touching down can pack brutal winds that not only rip away structures but take precious lives. Here are the worst tornadoes on record worldwide, based on confirmed lives lost: Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado, Bangladesh, 1989 This April 26, 1989, storm was about a mile wide and traveled 50 miles through poor areas of the Dhaka region of Bangladesh. Along with the U.S. and Canada, this is one of the countries most frequently hit by tornadoes. The death toll, estimated at 1,300, was due in large part to the shoddy construction in the slums that couldn't withstand the brute force of the twister, which ultimately left 80,000 people homeless. More than 20 villages were leveled and 12,000 people were injured. Tri-State Tornado, 1925 This is considered to be the deadliest tornado in U.S. history. The 219-mile path it cut through Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois is also on record as the longest in world history. The death toll from this March 18, 1925, twister was 695, with more than 2,000 injured. Most of the deaths were in southern Illinois. The monstrous tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide, though some reports put it at a mile wide in places. Winds may have exceeded 300 mph. The twister destroyed 15,000 homes. The Great Natchez Tornado, 1840 This tornado struck Natchez, Mississippi, on May 7, 1840, and holds the record as the only massive tornado in the U.S. to have killed more people than it injured. The death toll was at least 317, with the majority of casualties on flatboats sunk along the Mississippi River. The loss of life was likely greater because the deaths of enslaved people would not have been counted in this era. "There is no telling how widespread has been the ruin," wrote the Free Trader across the river in Louisiana. "Reports have come in from plantations 20 miles distant in Louisiana, and the rage of the tempest was terrible. Hundreds of (slaves) killed, dwellings swept like chaff from their foundations, the forest uprooted, and the crops beaten down and destroyed." The St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado, 1896 This tornado hit May 27, 1896, striking the major city of St. Louis, Missouri, and neighboring East St. Louis, Illinois, across the Mississippi River. At least 255 died, but the toll may have been higher (as people on boats might have washed down the river). It's the only tornado on this list to be considered a category F4 instead of the most powerful F5. Less than a month later, the city hosted the 1896 Republican National Convention, where William McKinley was nominated before being elected the 25th president of the United States. The Tupelo Tornado, 1936 This tornado struck Tupelo, Mississippi, on April 5, 1936, killing 233 people. Among the survivors were a young Elvis Presley and his mother. Official records at the time didn't include African Americans, and the twister heavily damaged Black neighborhoods, so the toll was likely higher. In total, 48 city blocks were destroyed. It was an especially deadly storm year, as the next night, a tornado swept through Gainesville, Georgia, killing 203. But the death toll could have been higher, as many buildings collapsed and caught fire. Source Linder, Blake. "Today in History: America's second deadliest tornado ever kills more than 300." Roodepoort Northsider, May 7, 2018.