2018 natural disasters statistics: volcanic activity resulted in more deaths than previous 18 years combined

Image credit: CRED

There were 281 climate-related and geophysical events recorded in the EM-DAT (International Disaster Database) in 2018. These caused deaths of 10 733 people and affected 61 million people across the world. There were a number of major disasters in certain regions, however, there were no mega-disasters which inflate yearly averages, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) who manages EM-DAT said. Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10 373 lives lost.

Notable features of the year were intense seismic activity in Indonesia, a string of disasters in Japan, floods in India, and a very eventful year in volcanic activity (which resulted in more deaths than have occurred in the previous 18 years combined) and wildfires. These events continued to occupy headlines, CRED said.

An ongoing trend of lower death tolls from previous years continued into 2018, potentially demonstrating the efficacy of improved standards of living and disaster management. However, it is critical to avoid complacency towards major gaps in data collection and reporting and resilience, particularly for climate-related disasters, which are forecasted to increase in both frequency and intensity. 

Globally, Indonesia recorded nearly half the total deaths from disasters in 2018, while India recorded nearly half the total number of individuals affected. The following data are events recorded in EM-DAT.  As estimations become more accurate over time, figures will be adjusted, particularly for economic losses. 

The original file posted by CRED can be found at the following link.

Earthquakes and tsunamis (20 events) 

Earthquakes and tsunamis have been the deadliest disaster in the 21st century and this trend continued in 2018. The concentration of the damage was in South-East Asia and Melanesia, specifically in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea respectively.

In the early months of the year, a string of earthquakes in Papua New Guinea left 181 dead, and affected over half a million people, many of whom lived in remote highlands which were difficult to reach by aid and rescue operations.

In Indonesia, the island of Lombok suffered multiple earthquakes, the deadliest being on August 5th, which killed 564 people. On September 28th, an earthquake triggered mudflows and a tsunami on the island of Sulawesi killing 3 400 people, making it the deadliest disaster of 2018. 

Storms (84 events)

Every year, storms impact millions of people, and create billions of dollars (USD) in damage; 2018 was the same.

Two major storms struck the United States, while in Asia, China, India, Japan, and the Philippines faced extensive damage from multiple storms.

It is anticipated that storms, particularly due to hurricanes Florence (14 billion USD) and Michael (16 billion USD) and typhoon Jebi (12.5 billion USD), will be the costliest type of disaster of 2018.

EM-DAT is awaiting final data on the economic damage from these events.

Floods (108 events)

Overall, floods have affected more people than any other type of natural hazard in the 21st century, including 2018. Overall, there was a respite from floods in 2018, with Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam, which often face relentless floods reporting fewer events this year. However, major floods were reported in other countries.

In Somalia, which is already suffering from an ongoing conflict, over 700 000 people were affected by flooding, while in Nigeria, flooding cost 300 lives and impacted nearly four million people.

In Japan, heavy rains triggered the deadliest floods since 1982, killing 230 people.

The August flooding of India’s Kerala state was by far the largest flood event of the year, with 504 dead, and two-thirds of the state’s residents affected (over 23 million people).

Currently, CRED is undertaking an epidemiological study in this region to investigate the impacts of the flooding on gender and disease.

Volcanic activity (7 events)

Volcanic activity rarely makes headlines, and has had minimal impacts since the turn of the century; however, in 2018 this natural hazard resulted in more deaths than have occurred in the previous 18 years combined.

In June, the Volcán de Fuego Eruption in Guatemala killed over 400 people and affected over 1.7 million, while late in December, the eruption of Anak Krakatau in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed over 400 people on the islands of Sumatra and Java. 

Droughts and extreme temperatures (39 events)

The direct impact of climate change on human populations will increasingly be felt through catastrophic phenomena, such as drought and extreme temperatures. The human repercussions of these events, as experienced by the EM-DAT team, are typically poorly reported, especially from low-income countries.

This is partly due to methodological difficulties in registering deaths and the severe consequences caused by droughts and extreme temperatures.

In 2018, three million people were affected by an ongoing drought in Kenya, while Afghanistan suffered a major drought that impacted 2.2 million people, causing the internal displacement of thousands.

In Central America droughts affected over 2.5 million people in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, which coincided with international migration patterns. Across Europe, a hot and dry summer caused heatwaves and drought conditions that affected farmers and health systems in numerous countries.

Due to the privileged economic situation of many European countries, there are reduced impacts from persistent heat exposure and water shortages on the population.

With the growing impact of climate change, particularly in lower and lower-middle income countries, it is critical to improve the reporting on the human impact of droughts and extreme temperatures.

Wildfires (9 events)

Across the world, the trend of devastating wildfires continued from 2017 into 2018. In 2018, the Attica Fires in Greece, killed an estimated 126 people, making it the deadliest wildfire recorded in Europe within EM-DAT records, both this current and previous century.

In the United States, the California wildfire season was the deadliest and costliest on record, with Camp Fire killing 88 people, the highest wildfire death toll in the country since the 1920s, and causing an estimated 16.5 billion USD in damage, the costliest wildfire event on record. 


Death toll by disaster type (2018 vs. average 21st century)



Average (2000-2017)



1 361


4 321

46 173

Extreme temperature


10 414


2 859

5 424




Mass movement (dry)




1 593

12 722

Volcanic activity







10 733

77 144

Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)


Top 10 countries by number of people affected (2018)



Total number of people affected



23 900 348



6 490 216



6 415 024



3 938 204



3 291 359



3 211 188



2 206 750



1 762 103



1 599 497



1 472 190

Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)


Top 10 countries by total death toll (2018)



Total death toll



4 535



1 388














United States of America






Korea DPR





Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)


Total number of people affected by disaster type (2018 vs. average 21st century)



 Average (2000-2017)



9 368 345

58 734 128



1 517 138

6 783 729


Extreme temperature

396 798

6 368 470



35 385 178

86 696 923



54 908

263 831


Mass movement (dry)





12 884 845

34 083 106


Volcanic activity

1 908 770

169 308



256 635

19 243



61 772 617

193 312 310


Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)


Total deaths tolls by year (21st century)


Death toll

Major events (5000+ deaths)


9 609



30 844

Gujarat Earthquake


12 124



109 827

Bam Earthquake,
European Heatwave


242 765

Indian Ocean Earthquake


88 673

Kashmir Earthquake


24 239

Java Earthquake


16 960



235 256

Cyclone Nargis,
Sichuan Earthquake


10 672



297 140

Haiti Earthquake,
Russian Heatwave,
Somalia Drought


51 434

Japan Earthquake


10 319



21 859

North India Floods,
Typhoon Haiyan


7 993



22 774

Nepal Earthquake


8 512



9 734



10 733



1 221 465


Source: EM-DAT (International Disaster Database)

Featured image and analysis credit: CRED

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Vaughan Nicholls 4 months ago

A separation in the "extreme temperature" disaster type would be useful to illustrate the difference between impacts due to high temperatures and impacts due to low temperatures...

Al Gore 5 months ago

This message brought to you by: The IPCC & Friends

merle 5 months ago

Cataclysme de la planète X: le soleil mourant et la terre dérivant à travers l'espace Le cataclysme de la planète X engloutissant la terre: à quel point peut-il devenir grave Maintenant le système d'étoiles mortes de la planète X qui venaient vers le soleil et la terre comme des comètes depuis des milliers d'années et très destructif affectant notre planète ce système peut sembler être bénigne au début parce qu'il est bas en énergie gravitationnelle et a une très faible influence de sorte que ces objets aussi grands que le soleil ont une attraction comme l'effet d'une petite lune mais c'est aussi l'état d'énergie faible qui les amènent à être destructif parce que cela les transforme en absorbeurs voraces de l'énergie des planètes vivantes célestes en d'autres termes une planète tel que la terre ou le soleil qui ont un noyau vivant en leurs sein seront peu à peu appauvri en énergie les effets de ces objets prochent de la terre peuvent désormais générer des systèmes de tempêtes à basse pression avec une circulation cyclonique des vents destructeurs ainsi que des marées mais ce n'est pas le vent qui fait monter le niveau de la mer c'est la force de gravitation exercée par ces objets sur l'océan la force de marée produit une vague gravitationnelle un pic régional et la région de gravitation inversée entraîne un renflement de marée affectant la surface de l'océan provoquant d"énormes vagues au-dessus de cela le nombre d'objets stellaires semble être en forte hausse les effets s'intensifient sur terre ont peut s'attendre à des hauteur de marée gigantesques cela va continuer d'augmenter ce qui signifie que nous pourrions avoir des vagues si énormes qu'elles pourraient annéantir l'intérieur des terres sur des centaines de miles d'un état bas comme la floride serait complètement immergé en quelques minutes noyant toute vie si plusieurs noyaux stellaires ou planètes du système planète X venaient à se rapprocher de la terre cela causeraient tous les volcans à éclater et toutes les lignes de faille pour aller à un événement de tremblement de terre à l'échelle mondial la lave coulerait à travers de grandes quantités de la masse terrestre d'autres zones seraient couvertes de fumée et de cendres la terre serait gravement endommagé en raison des tremblements de terre et des conséquences .Les tsunamis emporteraient les masses continentales détruiraient toutes les villes côtières les volcans sur le fond de l'océan seraient également réveiller endommageant grandement l'océan cet événement pourrait détruire toute la vie sur la planète de niveau d'extinction. tous ces événements se passe maintenant les autres effets sont les apparitions de fissures et dolines le relâchement du terrain les pluies intenses due aux objets et leurs débris qui entrent dans l'atmosphère terrestre Beaucoup de volcans vont déjà fort des tonnes de fumée et de soufre qui affecteront grandement notre chaleur estivale prochaine les événements causés par les noyaux stellaires augmentent de façon exponentielle ce qui provoque de grandes inondations ce système destructeur finira par détruire la terre à court d'énergie comme le soleil semble être maintenant mourant les effets sur la terre semble augmenter et ces effets peuvent conduire à la fin de toute vie sur terre dans un avenir proche.

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