List of natural disasters in Indonesia

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Natural disasters in Indonesia can usefully be divided into major disasters, medium level disasters, and lesser disasters which although causing less damage are very common across Indonesia. These can conveniently be considered as macro, mezzo, and micro events. Policies to respond to natural disasters in Indonesia, which are still in an early stage of being developed, need to develop strategies to deal with each of these different types of disasters.

Macro: Major natural disasters with widespread loss of life[edit]

The following is a list of main natural disasters that have occurred in Indonesia during recent history which have led to major loss of life (broadly defined here as over 500 deaths in the disaster).

Year Month Event Place Main area Death toll
1257 Huge eruption of Rinjani Lombok West Nusa Tenggara Huge eruption (1)
1586 Mount Kelud Blitar East Java 10,000 est
1815 Apr Huge eruption of Tambora Sumbawa East Nusa Tenggara 11,000 est (2)
1815 Nov Earthquake and tsunami Singaraja and Surabaya Bali and East Java >11,400
1822 Oct Galunggung West Java West Java 4,010
1833 Nov Sumatra earthquake and tsunami West Sumatra West Sumatra and Bengkulu numerous
1861 Feb Sumatra earthquake North Sumatra Nias area 2,000 est (3)
1883 Aug Eruption of Krakatoa Sunda Strait West Java and Lampung 36,417
1892 Jun Mount Awu eruption North Sulawesi North Sulawesi 1,530 est
1899 Sep Seram earthquake and tsunami Seram Island Maluku province 3,864
1917 Jan Bali earthquake Bali Bali and Lombok 1,500
1919 May Kelud eruption Blitar East Java >5,000
1926 June Papua earthquake Papua Papua and Papua New Guinea >5,000 (4)
1930 Nov Merapi eruption Yogyakarta Yogyakarta and Central Java >1,300
1963 Mar Agung eruption Bali Bali 2,000 est
1976 June Papua earthquake Papua Papua 5,000
1976 July Bali earthquake Buleleng Bali 573
1992 Dec Flores earthquake Flores East Nusa Tenggara 2,500
2004 Dec Aceh & Nias tsunami Aceh and Nias Aceh and North Sumatra 170,000 (5)
2005 Mar Nias earthquake Nias North Sumatra 1,300
2006 May Yogyakarta earthquake Bantul Yogyakarta 5,782
2006 July Pangandaran earthquake Pangandaran West Java and Central Java 660 est
2009 Sep Padang earthquake Padang West Sumatra 1,115
2018 Aug Lombok earthquake[1] North Lombok Lombok 564
2018 Sep Palu earthquake and tsunami Palu Central Sulawesi 2,256 (6)

(1) Total death toll unknown. The eruption is believed to have had a worldwide impact.
(2) This is the estimated death toll from the direct impact of the eruption. A total of perhaps 70,000 people are estimated to have died from starvation and disease in the area in the months following the eruption. See also 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora.
(3) "Some thousands" are reported to have died.
(4) Source: MCEER, University of Buffalo, The State University of New York, Major Indonesian Earthquakes of the 20th Century, accessed 29 December 2013.
(5) This is the estimated death toll in Indonesia. An estimated 60,000 more people died in other countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, especially in Sri Lanka.
(6) Several thousands more, perhaps 4,000 or more, were buried in a major mudslide during the earthquake and are believed dead.

Mezzo: Medium level natural disasters[edit]

In addition to the disasters listed in the table above, there are a large number of natural disasters in Indonesia which cause medium levels of loss of life (here defined, roughly, as between 50 and 500 deaths) or which give rise to large numbers of internally displaced refugees, sometimes for some months or more. Some recent examples of these include the following.

Year Month Event Place Main area Death toll Evacuees (estimates)
1965 Jan Sanana earthquake Sanana Island Maluku Islands 71 n.a.
1966 Apr Kelud eruption Blitar East Java >210 n.a.
1979 Feb Dieng Plateau eruption Dieng Plateau Central Java 149 n.a.
1981 Jan Irian Jaya earthquake Puncak Jaya area Papua (province) >300 n.a.
1982 Apr Eruption of Mt Galunggung Garut West Java 72 62,000
1990 Feb Widespread floods[2] Semarang and regions Central Java 169 approx 20,000
1994 Feb Lampung earthquake Lampung Sumatra approx 200 > 2,000 injuries
1997 Sep Indonesian forest fires[3] Kalimantan Sumatra & Borneo 240 ?
2000 June Enggano earthquake Bengkulu Sumatra >100 > 10,000 houses seriously damaged
2006 Jan Sijeruk landslide Banjarnegara Regency Central Java 240 ?
2006 May Sidoarjo mud flow Sidoarjo Regency East Java n.a. approx 40,000
2007 Oct Kelud eruption Blitar East Java n.a. 30,000
2009 Sep West Java earthquake Cianjur and Tasikmalaya West Java approx 80 approx 210,000
2010 Nov Merapi eruption South of Mt Merapi Yogyakarta & Central Java 353 350,000
2010 Aug Sinabung eruption Karo Regency North Sumatra 1 30,000
2010 Oct Wasior floods Wasior West Papua 145 7,900
2010 Oct Mentawai earthquake and tsunami Mentawai Islands West Sumatra 440 20,000
2014 Feb Sinabung eruption Karo Regency North Sumatra 16 over 30,000
2014 Dec Karangkobar landslide[4] Banjarnegara Regency Central Java approx 100 ?
2016 Dec Pidie Jaya earthquake[5] Pidie Jaya Regency Aceh approx 100 over 45,000 displaced
2018 Dec 2018 Sunda Strait tsunami Sunda Strait Banten and Lampung 437 over 46,000

Note. Estimates of the numbers of evacuees can vary considerably in short periods of time. In some cases large numbers of people move away from a threatened area but return to their homes as soon as possible. It is often the case in Indonesia that people are reluctant to move away from their homes, or stay away long, because of worries about loss of property through theft and because of the need to look after local farms and cattle. Figures listed here are generally the peak numbers although sometimes different sources provide different estimates.

Micro: Lesser natural disasters[edit]

There is a large number of smaller natural disasters in Indonesia each year which often lead to deaths of 10 or 20 people or more. For example, landslides (tanah longsor) are very common in upland areas, especially during the rainy season, and cause much local damage and deaths.[6]

Flooding is also a regular problem across many parts of Indonesia. The capital city Jakarta is subject to severe floods from time to time which usually cause some loss of life and significant damage to public and commercial infrastructure. In January 2014, for example, over 20 people lost their lives during widespread flooding and at one stage over 60,000 citizens were temporarily housed in nearly 250 evaluation shelters across the city.[7]

In many rural areas, local flooding is very common and brings loss of life as well as much local inconvenience to economic and community life. Recent examples of these sorts of problems at the regional level include:

  • A landslide at a resort in Pacet near Mojokerto in East Java in 2002 when over 30 people died.[8]
  • A landslide in Agam Regency in West Sumatra in January 2013 which left 20 people dead.
  • A series of landslides and floods in Manado in North Sulawesi in February 2013 which caused much damage and killed at least 17 people.[9]
  • A landslide in West Bandung Regency in West Java in March 2013 in which 17 people were killed[10]
  • Flash floods and landslides in Menado in North Sulawesi in January 2014 in which at least 16 people died and 40,000 were evacuated.[11] Around 1,000 homes were flooded; the government allocated Rp 3.3 billion (almost $300,000) for assistance.[12]
  • A 6.4-magnitude earthquake in late July 2018 killed at least 16 people, and injured around over 350, in Lombok in Eastern Indonesia.[13]

National outlook[edit]


According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB, or Badan Nasional Penanggulanan Bencana), as many as 566 people were killed by natural disasters and displaced over 2.6 million in Indonesia in 2014. Almost all of the disasters were classified as hydro-meteorological events. Tornadoes were the most common natural disaster (496 events) followed by floods (458 events) and landslides (413 events). Landslides caused the most deaths estimated at around 343 people.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karina M. Tehusijarana,'What you need to know about the Lombok earthquake', The Jakarta Post, 6 August 2018, and Kiki Siregar, 'Death toll in Lombok quake hits 131, more than 156,000 displaced.', The Jakarta Post, 8 August 2018. The death toll coninuted to rise as further reports of damage became available: 'Ministry, geological agency provide clean water to Lombok evacuees', The Jakarta Post, 14 August 2018. The official count is regularly updated on the website of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (in Indonesian).
  2. ^ UNDRO report for February 1990.
  3. ^ "Capter 3 It Only Takes A Spark: The Hazard of Wildfires" (PDF). Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  4. ^ Agus Maryono, 'Death toll in Banjarnegara landslide rises to 83', The Jakarta Post, 18 December 2014. See also 2014 Indonesia landslides.
  5. ^ Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Ina Parlina, Hotli Simanjuntak, 'Aceh quake kills at least 94', The Jakarta Post, 8 December 2016.
  6. ^ Agus Maryono, 'Hundreds of villages in C.Java prone to landslides', The Jakarta Post, 8 December 2014, and Agus Maryono, 'Hundreds buried alive under Banjarnegara landslides, The Jakarta Post, 16 December 2014.
  7. ^ Indah Setiwati, 'Flood death toll rises to 23 people', The Jakarta Post, 27 January 2014.
  8. ^ Ainur R. Sophiaan, 'Rescue team ends search for bodies at Pacet hot springs' Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine., The Jakarta Post, 18 December 2002.
  9. ^ Landslides, floods, kill 17 in Manado', The Jakarta Post, 19 February 2013.
  10. ^ 'Landslide site unsuitable for settlement', The Jakarta Post, 27 March 2013.
  11. ^ 'Death Toll Climbs to 16 as Menado Floods Leave Tens of Thousands Displaced', The Jakarta Globe, 16 January 2014.
  12. ^ 'Govt allocates Rp 3.3bn in aid for flood victims', The Jakarta Post, 17 January 2014.
  13. ^ Panca Nugraha, '10 die in Lombok earthquake, Mt Rinjani closed to hikers', The Jakarta Post, 29 July 2018, and Gemma Holliani Cahya, 'More than 1,000 hikers evacuated from Mt. Rinjani', The Jakarta Post, 31 July 2018.
  14. ^ '566 people killed by natural disasters in 2014: BNPB', The Jakarta Post, 31 December 2014.

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