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It's not easy to forget the deaths of 50 million people, but we have managed it. A global drought in the 1870s caused mass starvation in South America, Africa and Asia, but the event doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Now it seems the drought was triggered by a never-before-seen combination of climate events. While rare, the drought was entirely natural so it could easily happen again. Between 1875 and 1878, severe droughts ravaged India, China and parts of Africa and South America. The result was a famine that struck three continents and lasted three years. "It is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history," says Deepti Singh at Washington State University. In India the local manifestation of the event is known as the Great Famine. At the time India was controlled by the British Empire, and British policies exacerbated the drought's effects. The British continued exporting grain for profit, leaving little for the local people to eat.