Earthquakes in the Philippines
A 1910 earthquake map of the Philippines
LargestMw8.3 1918 Celebes Sea earthquake
DeadliestMw 8.0 1976 Moro Gulf earthquake 5,000–8,000 killed

The Philippines lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which causes the country to have frequent seismic and volcanic activity. Many earthquakes of smaller magnitude occur very regularly due to the meeting of major tectonic plates in the region. The largest was the 1918 Celebes Sea earthquake with Mw8.3.

Spanish period

Earthquakes recorded from the 17th to 19th century:[1]

17th century

Bird's eye view of Manila, circa 1665
Date Epicenter and Effects
Year Month
1601 January Manila and adjacent provinces. Considerable damage to some churches and many private houses in Manila. Its duration was unusually great, it being said that during 7 minutes the shocks were almost continuous. There were several dead and a great number of injured. The aftershocks were frequent throughout the year.
1628 Camarines and Albay. A destructive earthquake in which, it is said, a mountain burst and emitted a river of water and mud which swept away the town of Camarines and others. The name of Camarines was at the time used to designate the present town of Camalig, Albay and the district near the southern slopes of Mayon Volcano. The flood mentioned was probably an avalanche of water, sand, volcanic ashes, and lapilli, such as also on other occasions have occurred on the slopes of the same volcano during periods of torrential rains.
1645 November

The most terrible earthquake recorded in the colonial history of the Archipelago. It was said that from Manila to Cagayan and Ilocos Norte it left no stone unturned. In the capital, where during the preceding fifty years a great number of stone buildings had been erected, churches, palaces, and public buildings, as well as private residences and villas, the destruction was frightful. Ten churches were wrecked entirely: the Royal Chapel, Cathedral, Santo Domingo, those of the Recollects and Franciscans, Santiago, San Antonio, Nuestra Señora de Guia, and the parish churches of Binondo and San Miguel; only San Agustin and the Jesuit Church remained standing. Twelve monasteries, colleges, and hospitals were likewise destroyed, as were the palace of the Governor-General, the Real Audiencia and up to 150 of the finest residences which, as one author puts it, "in other cities would have been considerable palaces." The rest of the private houses were severely damaged that the majority had to be demolished. The number of persons killed exceeded 600 and the total of killed and injured was stated to have been 3,000.

Outside Manila there was a general destruction of villas and other buildings which had been erected on both banks of the Pasig River. Throughout the neighboring provinces the masonry structures built by the missionaries were also destroyed. From the farthest provinces in the north were reported great alterations of the surface with almost complete disappearance of some native villages, changes in the courses of rivers, subsidences of plains, eruptions of sand, etc. All the writers of the time qualify this disturbance as the most disastrous earthquake not only in Luzon, but likewise in Mindoro, Marinduque, and the other islands south of Luzon. On the other hand, the provinces of Camarines and Albay appear to have suffered little.

1665 June Destructive in Manila and adjacent provinces. In the ruins of numerous houses 19 persons died and many more were injured. Of public buildings only the Jesuit Church was mentioned as having suffered to some extent.
The inclusion criteria for adding events are based on WikiProject Earthquakes' notability guideline that was developed for stand alone articles. The principles described are also applicable to lists. In summary, only damaging, injurious, or deadly events should be recorded.

18th century

Walled City of Manila, detail from Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas (1734)
Date Epicenter and Effects
Year Month
1787 July Panay Island. A strong earthquake which devastated the island. Of 15 to 20 churches and conventos in Iloilo only two or three remained standing; in Capiz and Antique, the destruction was less extensive. Even the thick walls of the fort at Iloilo were breached in many places. There were subsidences in the plains and landslides in the mountains and mighty fissures opened. It is stated that the victims were numerous: in one building 15 persons died.
The inclusion criteria for adding events are based on WikiProject Earthquakes' notability guideline that was developed for stand alone articles. The principles described are also applicable to lists. In summary, only damaging, injurious, or deadly events should be recorded.

19th century

San Agustin Church, Manila after the 1880 earthquake
The belfry of Manila Cathedral after the series of destructive earthquakes of July 1880.
Manila Cathedral before the 1880 earthquake
Manila Cathedral after the 1880 earthquake
Scenes from the 1880 Luzon earthquakes
Date Epicenter and effects
Year Month
1840 Destructive earthquake in Sorsogon and Masbate. Ruined masonry buildings. In Sorsogon Bay extensive subsidences occurred; the sea invaded the town, causing great destruction and claiming many victims.
1852 September Central Luzon. Destructive earthquake strongly felt in present-day Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Tayabas, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija. In Manila it severely damaged many buildings, among them the cathedral and the churches of the Jesuits, San Miguel, and Paco, the church and convento at Pandacan (near Manila), and houses. It is stated that the damage was relatively greater in Bataan, Cavite, and Batangas, where many fissures opened and subsidences and landslides occurred. The zone most affected seems to have stretched from the Zambales Mountain Range as far as the coasts of Batangas and Northern Mindoro. Aftershocks were frequent until the middle of October.
1863 June

Manila and adjacent provinces. A disastrous earthquake, comparable with that of 1645. Destroyed the cathedral and nearly all the other churches, except San Agustin, the palace of the Governor-General, the Audiencia, the barracks, warehouses, etc.; all in all, 46 public buildings in ruins and 25 others badly damaged. Of private houses 570 were destroyed, 531 left tottering. A total of 1,172 buildings destroyed or badly damaged. It is estimated that in Manila and the surrounding towns alone the number of dead reached 400, that of the injured 2,000.

1869 August Masbate Island. Destroyed the few masonry buildings extant on the island and ruined or inclined hundreds of houses of wood or light materials; large trees fell, fissures opened, and vast landslides occurred in the mountains and along the coasts, especially in the south of the island. Countless repetitions followed, over 100 of the more severe ones having been counted during the first fortnight after the earthquake.
1869 October Neighboring provinces east and south of Manila, and northern Mindoro. On Luzon the provinces chiefly affected were present-day Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Batangas. In Manila this earthquake did considerable damage to quite a number of buildings. In Cavite and Batangas a few churches and conventos were destroyed. There was no loss of life. Aftershocks were frequent during the next five days.
1879 June

Surigao Peninsula. Caused extensive damage to buildings and the topography of the region. Not a single stone building remained inhabitable, although some of them, like the church, government house, and prison at Surigao, were of mostly solid construction. Besides the opening of innumerable fissures and vast landslides on the coasts and in the mountains, extensive subsidences occurred : several accurate observations seem to prove that a great part of the peninsula was depressed by about 2 feet. In short, this earthquake was one of those which produced the greatest changes of topography experienced in the Philippines. There followed other very strong quakes on July 5, 24, and 28, and August 8, with countless repetitions of less importance during several months. From July 1 to 15 occurred on the average 5 perceptible shocks per day.

1880 July

Earthquake of destructive violence in the towns surrounding Lake Bay, especially in those south and west of the lake. Within the epicentral region of the three preceding earthquakes, which measures about 300 kilometers from north to south and 200 kilometers from east to west, severe damage was done to the principal stone buildings, such as churches, conventos, court-houses, schools, and a few private houses, of 112 of the city principal towns. In Manila some 30 public buildings (administration buildings, barracks, churches, monasteries, and colleges) and about 200 private houses of strong materials were either wrecked or badly damaged. The number of victims was not in proportion to the magnitude of the disaster. From the various reports published at the time it is estimated that the number of deaths did not exceed 20, nor that of the injured exceed 50.

1892 March

Disastrous earthquake in Pangasinan, La Union, and Benguet. It severely damaged masonry buildings, such as churches, conventos, court-houses, and schools, besides a few private houses, of 30 of the principal towns within the meizoseismic area, produced great fissures and extensive subsidences in the alluvial plains, and many landslides in the steep mountains of northern Pangasinan. Falling buildings killed only one or two persons. Aftershocks were frequent up to the end of the month; of these three occurring on 17 March and one each on the 26 and 28 March were of exceptional intensity.

1897 September

Disastrous earthquake in Zamboanga, Basilan, and Jolo. It destroyed buildings and produced fissures, landslides, and similar effects. A formidable "tsunami" (tidal wave) claimed hundreds of victims on the western shores of Basilan. This "tsunami" was the most imposing recorded in the seismological history of the Archipelago. There followed innumerable aftershocks during 18 months, 200 having been counted before the middle of October, of which those on September 22, 23, 24, 26, and 29, and October 12 and 15 deserve special mention on account of their great intensity.

The inclusion criteria for adding events are based on WikiProject Earthquakes' notability guideline that was developed for stand alone articles. The principles described are also applicable to lists. In summary, only damaging, injurious, or deadly events should be recorded.

American period and post–World War II (1900–1999)

Large earthquakes near the Manila Trench
1972
1972
1956
1956
1934
1934
1924
1924
1972
1972
1942
1942
Large earthquakes ≥ 6.4 Mw near the Manila Trench. In 1924,[2] 1934,[3] 1956,[4] 1972,[5] 1999.[6] And the part near Mindoro in 1942[7] and 1972,[8] both of which were ≥ 7.4.

20th century

Year Description and effects
1912 A magnitude 7.5 quake struck Northeastern Mindanao on July 11. Damage and high intensity shaking were experienced in the towns of La Paz, Bunawan, Veruela and Talacogon in the Agusan Valley where intense ground shaking, liquefaction, widespread landslides and river/lake seiches occurred.[9]
1918 The Mw 8.3 Celebes Sea earthquake occurred on August 15, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). The offshore shock affected the southern Philippines with high intensity shaking and a destructive tsunami that left 52 people dead.
1924 A strong magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Southern Mindanao on April 14.[10] At least 500 people were killed and many houses were destroyed. A destructive tsunami was also generated, which was observed as far away as Balut Island, Sarangani Bay.[11][12][13]
1948 A magnitude 7.8 Mw earthquake struck Panay Island on January 25, at 1:46 am. The epicenter was between the municipalities of Anini-y and Dao (now Tobias Fornier) in Antique province.
1949 An intensity VII earthquake struck Luzon, mainly Isabela on December 29. Starting at 11:05 am, it lasted for two-and-a-half minutes. The damage was moderately destructive, causing landslides and rough waves capsizing boats, as well as fissures that spat out black water.[14]
1955 A magnitude 7.4 Mw earthquake struck Mindanao on April 1, at 2:14 am. The quake killed between 225 and 465 people and injured 868–898 others.
Earthquakes in Mindanao
1924
1924
1943
1943
1972
1972
Six of the seven largest Philippine earthquakes since 1901 with magnitude almost 8.0 Mw or higher were in Mindanao:

1913,[15] 1918,[16] 1924,[17] 1943,[18] 1972,[19] and 1976.[20]

These areas are near the Cotabato Trench and the southern portion of the Philippine Trench.

Mid to Late 20th century

Year Description and Effects
1968 A magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Casiguran, Aurora, on August 2, at the depth of approximately 31 km (19 mi). It was considered the most severe and destructive earthquake experienced in the Philippines during the last 20 years. 270 people were reported dead and 261 were injured.
1970 A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Baler, Aurora, on April 7, at 1:34 pm. PST at the depth of approximately 25 km (16 mi). 15 people died and around 200 others were injured. The earthquake damaged or destroyed buildings especially in Manila, where a school collapsed.[21][22][23]
1973 A magnitude 7.0 quake struck Ragay Gulf on March 17. Calauag, Quezon was the worst hit, as the quake caused 98 houses totally destroyed, and 270 more were partially damaged.[24]
1976 A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Mindanao on August 16. The quake caused a devastating tsunami that had hit the 700 km coastline of the island of Mindanao bordering Moro Gulf in the North Celebes Sea. An estimated 5,000 – 8,000 people died. The major cause of the great number of casualties during the event could be attributed to the fact that the quake happened just after midnight when most people were sleeping; and a great tsunami was spawned, struck the coasts from different directions and caught the people unaware.[25]
1983 A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck Laoag on August 17, at a depth of 42 km (26 mi). The quake has caused the deaths of 16 and injured 47 people.[26]
1988 A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Mindoro on June 20, at a depth of 16.7 km (10.4 mi). The quake has caused the deaths of 2 and injured 4 people.[27]
1990 A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Bohol on February 8. Six fatalities were reported and more than 200 were injured in the event. About 46,000 people were displaced by the event and at least 7,000 among them were rendered homeless. Estimated damage to properties is amounting to 154-million.[28]
1990 A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Panay Island on June 14 at a depth of 15 km (9.3 mi). Eight people died and 41 others were injured.[29]
1990 A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Luzon on July 16. It caused severe damage to major cities in Luzon: Dagupan (soil liquefaction), Baguio, and Cabanatuan; Hyatt Terraces Baguio collapsed. 1,621 were reported dead. Damage to buildings, infrastructures, and properties amounted to at least ₱10-billion, a part of which was caused by ground rupturing. However, some houses within 1–2 m on either side of the ground rupture survived owing to their light-weight construction while those built of reinforced concrete within this zone suffered partial damage. Damage beyond 2m depended mainly on the structural integrity of the building and effects of local topography and ground conditions.[25][30]
1994 A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mindoro on November 15 at depth of 15 km (9.3 mi). The quake caused a tsunami killed 41 people, injured 250, and destroyed 1530 houses.[31][32]
1995 A series of large earthquakes struck Samar on April 21, with four of the largest earthquakes being near magnitude 7 and the largest one registering at magnitude 7.3. The earthquakes also resulted in a small tsunami that was recorded in Legazpi, Albay. The area was hit by another earthquake of magnitude 7.0 on May 5 of the same year.[33]
1996 A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck Bohol on May 27, at a depth of 4 km (2.5 mi). The earthquake did not cause major damage to properties. Damage was confined to poorly built structures and/or old wooden, masonry, limestone walls of houses and buildings, generally due to ground shaking.[34]
1999 A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck Bayugan, Agusan del Sur on June 7 and 9. The towns of Bayugan and Talacogon were the most devastated.[9]
1999 A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck northwest of the coast of Zambales on December 12. The earthquake killed six people and injured 40 in Zambales, Pangasinan, and Metro Manila. The quake also caused power outages throughout Manila.[35]

21st century

Largest earthquakes by year

The damage caused by a tsunami at Barangay Tibpuan, Lebak, Mindanao after the 7.9 Moro Gulf Earthquake on August 16, 1976.
Earthquakes in Southern Mindanao
2001
2001
2005
2005
2007
2007
2009
2009
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
2017
2017
2018
2018
2019
2019
2021
2021
From the table, some of the largest (per year) of Philippine earthquakes since 2001. Note the western cluster near the Cotabato Trench under the Moro Gulf/Celebes Sea, and the eastern cluster near the southern portion of the Philippine Trench.

The largest or most notable Philippine earthquakes per year since 2001. As for the repeated entries, Moro Gulf near the Cotabato Trench is a seismically active area (the location of the devastating 1918 Celebes Sea earthquake and 1976 Moro Gulf earthquake). Meanwhile, Samar and Davao Region are near the northern and southern portions of the Philippine Trench, respectively.

Year Magnitude Location Date
2001 7.5 Philippine Sea near Tarragona, Davao Oriental[36] January 1
2002 7.5 Moro Gulf near Maitum, Sarangani March 5
2003 6.5 Philippine Sea near Borongan, Eastern Samar November 18
2004 6.5 Batangas Bay near Mabini, Batangas October 8
2005 6.4 Moro Gulf near Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat[37] November 30
2006 6.3 Luzon Strait near Babuyan Island October 9
2007 6.4 Philippine Sea near Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental[38] August 20
2008 6.9 Philippine Sea near Cabodiongan, Eastern Samar March 3
2009 6.6 Moro Gulf near Lebak, Sultan Kudarat October 4
2010 7.6 Moro Gulf near Kalamnsig, Sultan Kudarat July 23
2011 6.4 Luzon Strait near Fuga Island, Cagayan March 20
2012 7.6 Philippine Sea near Guiuan, Eastern Samar August 31
2013 7.2 Sagbayan, Bohol October 15
2014 6.6 Moro Gulf near Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat[39] December 2
2015 6.1 Philippine Sea near Burgos, Surigao del Norte[40] July 3
2016 6.3 Philippine Sea near Mati City, Davao Oriental[41] September 24
2017 7.2 Moro Gulf near Sarangani, Davao Oriental[42] April 29
2018 7.2 Philippine Sea near Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental December 29
2019 6.9 Matanao, Davao del Sur December 15
2020 6.6 Masbate Pass near Cataingan, Masbate August 18
2021 7.1 Philippine Sea near Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental August 11
2022 7.0 Tayum, Abra July 27
2023 7.4 Philippine Sea near Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur December 2
The inclusion criteria for adding events are based on WikiProject Earthquakes' notability guideline that was developed for stand alone articles. The principles described are also applicable to lists. In summary, only damaging, injurious, or deadly events should be recorded.

2001–present

The Cotabato Trench in southern Mindanao, the Philippine Trench, and the Philippine Mobile Belt.

Only earthquakes of magnitude 7.0+ are included, unless the event is notable such as causing casualties, or significant damage.

Cracks on the pier of Cataingan Port after the 2020 Masbate earthquake

Deadliest earthquakes

Ten deadliest recorded earthquakes in the Philippines since the 1600s
Magnitude Location Date Deaths Missing Injured Damage Source
1 8.0 Moro Gulf August 16, 1976 4,791 2,288 9,928
2 7.8 Luzon Island July 16, 1990 1,621 1,000 >3,000 10 billion
3 Unknown Manila June 3, 1863 1,000 [1]
4 7.5 Luzon Island November 30, 1645 >600 >3,000 Unknown
5 8.1 Mati, Davao Oriental April 14, 1924 ~500 [126][127]
6 7.4 Lanao del Sur April 1, 1955 >400 Unknown US$5 million [128]
7 7.6 Casiguran, Aurora August 2, 1968 271 261
8 7.2 Bohol and Cebu October 15, 2013 222 8 796 4 billion (est.) [129]
9 6.7 Negros Oriental February 6, 2012 113 112 383 million
10 7.1 Mindoro November 15, 1994 78 430 5.15 million [31]

See also

References

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