| September 27, 1881|
Up to 300,000
| October 8, 1881|
| 957 hPa (mbar); 28.26 inHg|
Haiphong, Northern Vietnam
Luzon, Captaincy General of the Philippines (now Philippines)
The 1881 Haiphong typhoon was a typhoon that struck Haiphong, in Dai Nam (now Vietnam), and the northern part of the Captaincy General of the Philippines (now the Philippines) on October 8, 1881.
1881 Haiphong typhoon Wikipedia
The Gulf of Tonkin is one of the most frequently used paths for Pacific typhoons to strike the Asian Mainland. The 1881 Haiphong Typhoon traveled this route after it originated near the Spanish East Indies.
The city of Haiphong lies about 10 miles from the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin and also on the Red River in a low elevation area (delta), connected to an access channel. By the time the typhoon landed in 1881, the town was still a young port established by the French in 1874.
While the storm's category and strength is uncertain (like many disasters prior to the 20th century), records show that the storm developed near the Philippine in late September and by the time it hit Luzon (Philippine island) on September 30, it was already strong enough to cause casualties and disrupt society. Once it was in the South China Sea, its power increased again as it entered into the Gulf of Tonkin, avoiding anymore land before it hit the gulf's coast.
About 300,000 people were killed by the typhoon (casualties likely went up even in the storm's passing due to disease and starvation), 20,000 of whom were in the modern territory of the Philippines, making it the deadliest Philippine typhoon ever recorded. It was three times the casualty of Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest Philippine typhoon in modern meteorological records, and is the third deadliest tropical cyclone in history of the world.
Haiphong, being a low-lying port town, was devastated both physically and economically. Its geography only made the damage escalate. With the high waves and winds, rice fields were flooded, buildings were decimated (and as a result, people either were drowned or left stranded), trees were ripped up, etc. By the time the typhoon passed, most of the town was wiped out. Then, due to the inability to operate as a port town, Haiphong's economy also took impact.
The typhoon of 1881 is not a common occurrence because its path around Hainan is what made it so strong by the time it hit Haiphong. This has not happened since 1881, but analyses predict that it will happen again. The Vietnamese government has also taken action in case of another severe typhoon hitting the area. Haiphong now has a flood defense system including dykes/levees (though not all of them are firm), a flood warning service provided by Vietnam's Meteorological Service, and evacuation plans. However, Haiphong still serves as a port (and a major one today), so any large storms will harm the economy.