Culture & Heritage

History of Natural Disasters in the Philippines

Written by Patrick

A paradisiacal tropical destination, the Philippines is not without its share of natural disasters particularly typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.  Over the years, the country endured disaster after disaster that affected thousands of lives through loss of shelter, job, or loved ones.

Here’s the list of major natural disasters that ravaged the Philippines through the years.

November 30
Luzon Earthquake. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck Luzon killed 600 people and greatly damaged churches including the Manila Cathedral. The earthquake was considered the strongest to hit the country since the Spanish conquest.
Taal Volcano Eruption. The volcano erupted for 7 months burying 4 towns in Batangas. As much as 40 inches of ash were recorded in some areas.
February 1
Mayon Eruption. The eruption was the strongest recorded to date of the Mayon volcano. The volcano erupted characteristically dark ash and car-sized boulders toward the town of Cagsawa therefore burying it along with the Cagsawa Church which its ruins now a tourist attraction. An estimate of 2,000 people were killed during the eruption.
April 30
Hibok-Hibok Eruption. A volcanic fissure opened following days of earthquakes and subterranean rumblings. From the opening, lava was continuously spewed and drained into the sea for four years destroying the town and eventually forming a cone which is now known as Mt. Vulcan. The eruption caused the Sunken Cemetery and Gui-ob Church ruins, both are now tourist attractions in Camiguin.
January 30
Taal Eruption. The very explosive eruption wiped out 7 barangays on the island and killed more than 1,000 people from scalding by hot steam or hot mud. The eruption was one of the most notable in the volcano’s recorded history.
January 25
Panay Earthquake. While recovering from the effects of World War II, Panay was hit by an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 and intensity of 10. The earthquake was the second biggest in the country on record.
December 9
Typhoon Amy made an initial landfall along with the eruption of Mount Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin.
Taal Eruption. The eruption devastated villages on the lake shore and killed an estimate of 100 people.
August 02
Casiguran Earthquake. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake at a depth of 31 km. struck the province of Aurora. It was considered the most severe and destructive earthquake experienced in the Philippines during the last 20 years. A building in Binondo, Manila instantly collapsed during the quake while several others in Manila were damaged. There were 270 people killed and 261 more were injured due to the earthquake.
Typhoon Patsy (Typhoon Yoling) was one of the most devastating and deadliest typhoons to hit the country since the establishment of the Philippine Weather Bureau. It caused 106 deaths on the island, 135 deaths at sea, and 31,380 whose homes were either destroyed or damaged.
March 17
Ragay Gulf Earthquake. A magnitude 7.0 struck Ragay Gulf in the Bicol Peninsula. The earthquake caused depression along the Calauag-Guinayangan municipal road in the province of Quezon.
August 16
Moro Gulf Earthquake. A magnitude 8.0 caused a large tsunami that hit the coastline of Mindanao bordering Moro Gulf in the North Celebes Sea. Both the earthquake and tsunami caused an estimate of 5,000 to 8,000 deaths.
November 24
Typhoon Irma (Typhoon Anding) caused significant damage and flooding in the Philippines particularly in Camarines Norte. Along with a 15-meter tidal wave in four towns in Camarines Sur, the typhoon affected 482,678 people with 595 deaths, 72 wounded, and 40,000 homeless.
March 25
Typhoon Nelson (Typhoon Bising) struck the country less than a week after another typhoon did. Typhoon Nelson caused additional flooding and destroyed 1,200 homes. It killed around 40 people out of more than 165,000 who were affected.
August 17
Laoag Earthquake. An intensity 7 earthquake hit Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Considered the most severe earthquake in Northwestern Luzon in 52 years, the disaster caused 16 deaths and total collapse of several buildings in Laoag.
September 1
Typhoon Ike (Typhoon Nitang), the second deadliest tropical cyclone in the 20th century in the Philippines, made landfall in Mindanao four days after Tropical Storm June (Typhoon Maring) did. Nationwide, it killed more than 1,400 people and injured 1,856 more.
October 18
Typhoon Dot (Typhoon Saling in Ph) was the strongest storm in 1985. It affected more than one million people, 88 of which were killed and 24 were hurt.
November 25
Typhoon Nina (Typhoon Sisang) caused widespread damage in the country particularly to the Northern Philippines. Overall, the typhoon killed 808 people and injured 1,075 more. There were 90,173 houses demolished and additional 109,633 that were partially destroyed.
October 23
Typhoon Ruby (Typhoon Unsang) was the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 18 years. It caused widespread damage to the country by destroying homes, sinking ships, and blowing vehicles off freeways. A tornado destroyed six villages in Cagayan de Oro and flash floods drowned five. During the typhoon, passenger ferry MV Doña Marilyn sank in the Visayan Sea which resulted in 77 deaths and 261 missing. A Philippine Navy landing boat, a hospital vessel, a tugboat, and a freighter also sank during the typhoon. Overall, the typhoon caused 207 and affected two million more people.
October 1-13
Typhoons Angela (Rubing), Dan (Saling), and Elsie (Tasing) struck the country in two weeks causing a total of more than 200 deaths.
February 8
Bohol Earthquake. A tectonic earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 and intensity of 8 struck Bohol. The earthquake caused landslides, rockfalls, sudden increase in sea levels, and overflowing of a river among others. A bridge connecting the towns of Anda and Duero as well as two historical churches collapsed.
June 14
Panay Earthquake. A magnitude 7.1 earthquake at a depth of 15 kilometers hit Panay Island specifically the vicinity of Culasi, Antique. The earthquake killed 7 people and injured 31 others.
July 16
Luzon Earthquake. An earthquake of 7.8 magnitude and intensity of 9 struck Luzon. The epicenter was Nueva Ecija however the ground rupture stretched up to the province of Aurora. The earthquake killed an estimated 1,621 people and collapsed several buildings including Hyatt Terraces Baguio Hotel and Hotel Nevada also in Baguio.
November 12
Typhoon Mike (Typhoon Ruping) hits Visayas particularly Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, and Panay Island. Considered as the 7th most damaging typhoon since the country’s independence, Ruping destroyed television broadcast and radio towers as well as bridges and electric cables therefore resulting in widespread power outage. It reportedly killed 748 people and injured 1,274 more.
June 12-15
Pinatubo Eruption. A series of eruptions occurred after being dormant for hundreds of years. The eruption was worsened by Typhoon Yunya (Typhoon Diding) therefore causing a messy rain of mud and massive lahars and killing more than 800 people. The eruption was the second-largest volcanic eruption in the world during the 20th century. Read more about Mount Pinatubo.
November 15
Mindoro Earthquake. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.1 and intensity of 7. With the epicenter in Verde Island Passage, the earthquake generated a tsunami and landslides therefore killing 78 people and damaging almost 8,000 houses.
April 21
Samar Earthquakes. A series of earthquakes struck Samar and generated a small tsunami in Legazpi, Albay. Four of the largest earthquakes have magnitude between 7 to 7.3.
October 23-31
The Philippines was hit with a succession of three typhoons Yvette (Oniang), Zack (Pepang), and Angela (Rosing). The latter intensified into a super typhoon and had the third highest wind speeds recorded in the Philippines. Overall, the three typhoons caused around 1,000 fatalities and billions of pesos in damages.
March 5
Mindanao Earthquake. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Southern and Central Mindanao at a depth of 31 km. The quake killed at least 15 people and injured 100 more.
November 29
Tropical Depression Winnie made landfall in southern Luzon. There were 842 people killed and 751 more missing. The name Winnie was retired from the list due to the total number of deaths and missing.
November 25-30
Heavy rains brought by Typhoon Durian (Reming) triggered a massive landslide from the Mayon Volcano making the death toll reach more than 1,000.
June 20-23
Typhoon Fengshen (Frank) devastated Central Visayas causing flooding and mudslides. There were 1,300 fatalities including the passengers of the Princess Of The Stars ferry that sank off San Fernando, Romblon due gigantic waves and gusty winds.
September 26
Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) made landfall in the Philippines. More than 400 people died due to flooding, landslides, and other incidents. It was considered the most devastating typhoon to hit the country, particularly Manila since Typhoon Patsy (Yoling) in 1970.
October 18
Typhoon Megi (Super Typhoon Juan) caused widespread damage in Luzon. The only super typhoon in 2010, Megi is considered one of the most intense and costliest typhoons in the Philippines.
December 16
Tropical Storm Washi (Tropical Storm Sendong) made landfall in Mindanao and caused damage in the country particularly in Cagayan de Oro where the river overflowed causing flash floods in the area. There were 1,250 killed and over 6,000 injured out of nearly 700,000 people affected.
February 6
Negros Earthquake. A magnitude 6.7 and intensity 7 earthquake hit Negros Oriental at a depth of 20 km. The earthquake triggered landslides therefore burying a barangay and raising the death toll to 51.
December 5
Typhoon Bopha (Typhoon Pablo) is the strongest tropical cyclone on record to ever affect Mindanao. Death toll is at 1,146 and 834 more were reported missing.
October 15
Bohol Earthquake. A 7.2 earthquake struck Bohol killing an estimate of more than 200 people and injuring 700 more. Thousands of buildings were damaged including the centuries-old Loon Church, Loboc Church, and Baclayon Church.
November 8
Super typhoon Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda) made landfall in Visayas and caused storm surges and flooding which devastated the region particularly Samar and Leyte. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones, the costliest, and deadliest typhoon on record with death toll reaching more than 6,000.
October 19
Typhoon Haima (Super Typhoon Lawin) made landfall in Cagayan. PAGASA gave typhoon signal number 5 for the first time.
January 12
Taal Eruption. The volcano spewed ashes and steam-laden tephra between 10 to 15 kilometers high therefore prompting PHIVOLCS to issue Alert Level 4. There were 39 casualties although only one was directly caused by the eruption. Others were due to health-related problems.
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About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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