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The Most Catastrophic Natural Disasters Of 2018

While mother nature tried to tear cities apart, it was a compassionate and determined human spirit that put them back together.

Japanese Heatwave

Australia's northern neighbours experienced the hottest summer on record in 2018. In fact, it was so hot authorities declared the heatwave a natural disaster when the mercury hit 41.1 degrees in the city of Kumagaya -- the highest temperature in the nation's history.

Japan experienced their highest temperatures ever. Image: Getty Images

At least 65 people died as a result of the catastrophic heat and another 22,000 were taken to hospital for treatment for heat-related illnesses. Central Toyko also recorded temperatures of over 40 degrees, the first time in history it's been that hot in the city.

READ MORE: Bushfires And Heatwave: Is Australia Next For Extreme Weather?

Australian Drought

The drought in New South Wales made international headlines when 100 percent of the state was declared drought-affected. A whopping 15 percent was said to be in severe drought and 57 percent of Queensland was also suffering from the 'big dry'.

It was the worst droughts Australian farmers had seen in 100 years and it's not over yet.

Heartbreaking stories of dying cattle, farmers struggling to feed their families and deteriorating mental health emerged in droves.  While there was some sporadic rainfall, meteorologists conceded that much more than a day or two of rain was needed to break the relentless drought.

A kangaroo lies dead after it was shot near a field of oats on a property near St George, Queensland. Image: AAP Images.

This Christmas season, the drought continues across the nation, especially in the worst-hit states of NSW and Queensland, but there are plenty of ways people can to help a farmer this festive season.

READ MORE: How To Help Drought-Affected Farmers This Christmas

READ MORE: The Next Generation Of Farmers Undeterred By Drought

Greek Fires

The Greek town of Mati just east of Athens was a wasteland of charred trees and ravaged homes following destructive wildfires that burned through the area in July. At least 83 people were killed in the fires that have since been described as one of the worst fires in Greece's history.

About 500 homes were destroyed in the blazes, as well as countless motor vehicles, as people tried to flee the fires in their cars, only to discover the roads out of the town were blocked. In one of the most tragic stories from the disaster, emergency crews discovered the bodies of 26 people huddled together just meters from the sea and safety.

Mati was destroyed by wildfires. Image: AAP.

Authorities believe the fires were deliberately lit and said they had evidence arson was behind the cause of the fire.

READ MORE: Heartbreaking And Harrowing Stories And Photos From The Greek Fires

READ MORE: Greece Says 'Serious Indications' Of Arson Behind Deadly Wildfire

Lombok Earthquake

A shallow 6.9 magnitude earthquake all but levelled the Indonesian island of Lombok in August. At least 550 people were killed in the disaster, with a massive 353,000 people internally displaced.

More than 13,000 houses and buildings were destroyed in the quake and power and communications lines were also severed in many parts of the island. More than 120 aftershocks were recorded soon after the initial quake as residents and emergency services started the clean-up job.

More than 13,000 houses were destroyed in the quake. Image: Reuters

READ MORE: Lombok Earthquake Death Toll Rises To 98

Indian Floods

A whopping 800,000 people were displaced when the worst floods in a century hit the Indian state of Kerala. In some places, floodwaters rose three metres and crashed into homes and business.

At least 350 people died when the flood waters hit in early August, causing landslides and building collapses. The state's infrastructure was also badly damaged with over 10,000 kilometres of roads ruined, meaning vital supplies like food and drinking water were delayed from arriving in the affected areas. The damage across the state was estimated at $3 billion.

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350 people died in the horrific floods. Image: Reuters

READ MORE: Indian State Battles 'Rat Fever' Outbreak After Worst Floods In History

Californian Fires

At least 88 people were killed in what became the deadliest fires in California's history. At its worst, 1,011 people were unaccounted for and the towns of Paradise, Malibu, Magalia, Concow and other parts of the state near LA were the worst affected. A whopping 10,321 structures were destroyed in the blazes.

Heart-wrenching stories of groups of people being discovered together after burning to death in the blazes, and families fleeing from the horror flames emerged as firefighters worked to contain the more than 8,000 fires burning across the state.

A man tries to save his furniture from the Woolsey fire in Malibu. Image: AAP

A national disaster was declared in the area, and now, months after the disasters, the task of cleaning up and rebuilding continues.

READ MORE: California Fires Death Toll Now At 71, More Than 1000 Missing

READ MORE: Horse Found 'Shivering Uncontrollably' After Hiding In Pool To Escape California Fires

Queensland Fires

Queensland was ravaged by some of the worst fires in the state's history in November. They were so bad, the first ever 'catastrophic' fire warning was issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 200 fires burning across the state were 'unprecedented' and tragically one man lost his life in the blazes.

In her desperation, Palaszczuk called for reinforcements from all over the country and firefighters from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT answered her calls for help.

A firefighter crouches next to the flames. Image: AAP Images.

Since the fires have been contained, two people have been arrested for allegedly deliberately lighting the fires.

READ MORE: Two Arrested For Allegedly Lighting Fires In Queensland

READ MORE: The Long Road Ahead For Queensland's Fire-Ravaged Towns

Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami

In September, a massive 7.5 earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a massive tsunami. More than 1,700 people died in the disaster and rescue services worked around the clock, searching for missing persons in the rubble of homes and hotels.

Dozens of people were feared buried in the rumble of one of the worst-hit towns Palu, while hundreds more were missing beneath the earth of landslides. Many areas surrounding Palu were completely cut off from communications and power was completely dysfunctional.

A collapsed mosque is pictured in Palu, Indonesia's Central Sulawesi. Image: Getty Images.

Authorities vowed to build a mass grave at the time to bury the dead as soon as possible. They also declared parks and public spaces would be built to remember the disaster.

READ MORE: Search For Indonesia Quake Victims To End On Thursday

READ MORE: Terrifying Moment When A Tsunami Hits Indonesia

Japanese Floods

In the weeks of late June through mid-July, successive heavy rains fell on south-western Japan causing widespread floods and mudflows. By the end of July, 225 people had been confirmed dead across 15 counties and a further 13 were still missing.

Hiroshima Prefecture was hit the hardest, where 583 millimetres of rain caused numerous landslides. More than five million people were told to evacuate from badly affected areas, and many of those who died were believed to have ignored such recommendations. An estimated 48,000 police, firefighters and members of the Self-Defence Force responded to calls for help from people trying to escape the flood waters.

READ MORE: Japan Is Enduring Its Worst Weather Disaster In Decades

An elderly woman rescued from the flood waters. Image: Getty Images.
Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence was the first major storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. The category four storm made landfall in North and South Carolina, leaving more than 370,000 without power as it hit.

The hurricane caused monumental flooding with winds blowing at 144 km/h. Amid the fear and chaos of the destructive weather, 53 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured. Rescue services worked around the clock to airlift people from their homes and hotels to safety. Hundreds of dogs and other animals were also saved from the heavy rains and flood waters including 10 beagles who were rescued from a certain death after being released from flooding cages.

The storm was upgraded to a category four storm before it hit the Carolinas. Image: AAP.

READ MORE: Hundreds Of Dogs Rescued From Florence Flood Waters

READ MORE: Prisoners Left To Ride Out Hurricane As Florence Nears

Sydney AND Queensland Storms

Queensland suffered a powerful superstorm and consequent tornado in October. Power was cut-off, trees were uprooted and houses were destroyed as the harsh rains tore through the sunshine state. Fiona Simpson was badly injured when she jumped into the back seat of her car to shield her baby daughter from the hail as the back window smashed. She sustained heavy bruising and cutting, but her little girl escaped largely uninjured.

READ MORE: Mother Puts Her Life On The Line To Protect Her Baby

Simpson suffered serious bruising when she dived into the back seat to protect her child. Image: Facebook/Fiona Simpson

In late November, Sydney was engulfed by an almighty deluge that saw the city get one month's worth of rain in just two hours. Tragically a 14-year-old boy died when he was involved in a car accident. He was just one of three people that died. The storms saw train stations and roads completely flooded and most of the city's public transport closed down in the flash flooding.

READ MORE: Three Dead, Clean Up Continues After Sydney Storm

Heavy Rain Engulfs Sydney As Wild Weather Lashes NSW

Featured Image: Getty Images. 

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au