Top 10 Deadliest and Most Destructive Earthquakes in the Philippines

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Philippines is one of the countries in the world which is frequently hit by earthquake because it lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire. Several lives and numerous properties are destroyed every time the country is hit by strong seismic and volcanic activi

Philippines is one of the countries in the world which is frequently hit by earthquake because it lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire. Several lives and numerous properties are destroyed every time the country is hit by strong seismic and volcanic activities. Just recently, a strong tremor hit central Philippines leaving scores of casualties and million worth of infrastructures and properties.

Here’s a list in recorded history of the deadliest earthquakes in the Philippines in terms of casualties.

1.) 1976 Moro Gulf Earthquake and Tsunami – up to 8,000 deaths

In terms of casualties, the deadliest earthquake to ever hit the Philippine is the 1976 Moro Gulf Earthquake and Tsunami killing about 8,000 people. It was very devastating because it occurred just after midnight when most people are asleep.

  • Date: August 16, 1976
  • Magnitude: 8.0 moment magnitude scale
  • Epicenter: Celebes Sea
  • Damages: Not accounted
  • Affected areas: Mindanao and Borneo

2.) 1645 Luzon Earthquake - 600 deaths (Spaniards only)

One of the deadliest earthquakes and was dubbed as the "most terrible earthquake" in the recorded history of the Philippines is the 1645 Luzon Earthquake. During this time, only Spaniards who died were counted. If properly recorded, this could be the most devastating and deadliest earthquake in the country.

  • Date: November 30, 1645 at about 08:00 PM
  • Magnitude: 7.5
  • Epicenter: Nueva Ecija
  • Damages: Hundreds of buildings and houses were destroyed
  • Affected areas: Central Luzon, Manila

3.) 1990 Luzon Earthquake – 1,621 deaths

The 1990 Luzon Earthquake is one of the most devastating and most dramatic earthquakes that struck the Philippines. Some survivors were rescued from under the rubbles of collapsed building even after 3 weeks. Cabanatuan City and Baguio City incurred the highest numbers of casualties.

  • Date: July 16, 1990, at 4:26 PM
  • Magnitude: 7.8
  • Epicenter: 15° 42' N and 121° 7' E near Rizal, Nueva Ecija
  • Damages: Scores of buildings collapsed and damaged
  • Affected areas: Central Luzon and Cordillera region

4.) Luzon Earthquakes of July 1880

The Luzon Earthquake of July 1880 is another deadly and destructive earthquake in Philippine history. Manila and Laguna were severely devastated by the tremors. The first major tremor lasted for 1 minute and 10 seconds.

  • Date: July 14-25, 1880
  • Magnitude:  10 on Rossi-Forel scale
  • Epicenter: Luzon
  • Damages: Scores of churches and buildings were damages and destroyed
  • Affected areas: Manila, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite and Bulacan

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5.) 1968 Casiguran Earthquake –268 deaths

The 1968 Casiguran Earthquake of 1968 is another deadly and devastating seismic activity in the Philippines. Manila was the worst hit during the said event. The quake also caused tsunamis as far as Japan and caused several landslides

  • Date: August 2, 1968  
  • Magnitude: 7.3
  • Epicenter:  Casiguran, Aurora
  • Damages: Ruby Tower fell and several buildings were destroyed and damaged.
  • Affected areas: Manila, Aurora and Pampanga

6.) 2012 Visayas Earthquake – 81 deaths

Several towns in Negros Oriental were isolated due to the collapsed of bridges connecting the towns to the rest of the province. The tremor and aftershocks caused landslides and buried many residential houses.

  • Date: February 6, 2012
  • Magnitude: 6.9 Mw
  • Epicenter: Negros Oriental
  • Damages: Bridges collapsed, buildings were damaged and roads were totally ruined
  • Affected areas: Negros Oriental and neighboring provinces

7.) 1994 Mindoro Earthquake – casualties -78

This tremor generated a tsunami and landslides that destroyed several houses and properties and claimed the lives of less than 100 people.

  • Date: November 15, 1994
  • Magnitude: 7.1
  • Epicenter: Verde Island Passage
  • Damages: 7,566 houses were damaged
  • Affected areas: Mindoro, Verde Island, Baco islands, Luzon

8.) 2002 Mindanao Earthquake – 15 deaths

The quake generated a tsunami and landslides.

  • Date:  March 5, 2002
  • Magnitude: 7.5
  • Epicenter: Cotabato Trench
  • Damages: About 800 buildings were damaged
  • Affected areas:

9.) 1990 Bohol Earthquake – deaths-6

Aside from the houses destroyed by the Bohol earthquake of 1990, the event also injured more than 200 people.

  • Date: February 08, 1990
  • Magnitude: 6.8
  • Epicenter: Bohol
  • Damages: 46,000 people were displaced and at least 7,000 became homeless
  • Affected areas: Bohol

10.) 1973 Ragay Gulf Earthquake

The town of Calauag, Quezon was the most devastated during the 1973 Ragay Gulf Earthquake.

  • Date: March 17, 1973
  • Magnitude: 7.0
  • Epicenter: Ragay Gulf
  • Damages: 98 houses destroyed and damaged 270 more
  • Affected areas: Quezon province

There were many other earthquakes during the more than 300-year Spanish colonization of the Philippines but there are no written records on the casualties and damages.


Cheryl Murphy
Posted on Feb 9, 2012
Vickie Britton
Posted on Feb 9, 2012