Natural disasters in the Philippines at a glance

Natural disasters in the Philippines have long been a part of the country’s history. The Philippines sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire, where its horseshoe shape engulfs an area of 40,000 kilometers, and its basin in the Pacific Ocean are prone to a lot of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The southwestern portion of the belt has complex tectonic plates that collide with Pacific plates from Islands of Mariana, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand.

As of 2020, the record of the strongest earthquakes worldwide based on Richter scale occurred in countries located within the Ring of Fire, and its damages worldwide had cost billions of dollars, most notably in Japan in 2011. Several hazards that are based on earthquake events can cause ground shaking, ground rupture, landslide, liquefaction, and tsunami. The risk of experiencing ground shaking in the likelihood of an earthquake is most common in the country. However, the probability of tsunami is more likely to happen in areas of Bulacan, Cavite, and the National Capital Region.

The threat of volcanic eruption can cause the intensity of strong earthquakes. In the recent eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12, 2020 in the Philippines, about 170 earthquakes occurred. As of today, the Philippines have a total of 53 volcanoes where 24 are active.

In 2016, the total cost of damages by major natural disasters in the Philippines amounted to approximately 14.4 trillion Philippine pesos. Flooding, effects of the southwest monsoon, and low-pressure area account for most of the damages paid in 2016. The official wet season in the Philippines starts from May and ends in November, and with the geographical location of the country, it is generally prone to tropical cyclones.

PAGASA agency that monitors and forecasts weather conditions in the Philippines categorizes these cyclone events. The classifications are tropical depression, tropical storm, severe tropical storm, typhoon, and super typhoon. The super typhoon Haiyan that occurred in 2013, was one of the most expensive natural disasters in the country. In effect, government spending in 2013 amounted to about 53 billion Philippine pesos, which aimed at rehabilitation and recovery, disaster prevention and mitigation, disaster preparedness, and disaster response. Given the numerous natural calamities that happened in the country, in 2019, the government secured financial protection from the World Bank that would cover the cost of risks from an earthquake and tropical cyclones events.

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Natural Disasters in the Philippines

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Number of volcanoes by location

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