As the sinkhole that swallowed a three-story building in Guatemala Monday demonstrated, natural disasters can be really weird. The Daily Beast runs through some of the strangest natural catastrophes on record:
- The poisonous cloud: In 1986 in Cameroon, 1,700 people and 3,500 animals mysteriously dropped dead simultaneously. Scientists discovered that a nearby lake had absorbed carbon dioxide from the dormant volcano beneath it, and then spewed out a 16-mile cloud of death that moved at 125mph.
- Snake attack: Days before Mount Pelee blew in the Caribbean in 1902, hordes of poisonous snakes, sensing the coming eruption, poured into the streets, biting and killing at least 50 people.
- Flaming tornado: On rare occasion, the wind can whip fire into a whirl as strong as a tornado. A storm of such twisters killed 38,000 people in Tokyo in 1923.
- Asteroid strike: Astronomers believe a 220 million-pound asteroid hit the earth's atmosphere over Siberia in 1908, producing an impact equal to 185 atomic bombs, and felling 80 million trees—but killing no one, because the area was so remote.
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