See More on Facebook

Analysis, Curiosity

Four of Asia’s deadliest volcanoes

A string of volcanic eruptions around the Pacific rim gives us the opportunity to look back at the deadliest volcanic events in modern Asian history.


Written by

Updated: March 13, 2018

Japan’s Shinmoedake volcano erupted in early March, the latest in a string of eruptions around Asia.

The volcano, which was featured in a James Bond film, erupted for the first time since 2011 causing flights to be cancelled at a nearby airport.

No injuries have been reported thus far, but Japan and indeed other Asian nations have not always been so lucky. Here are some of the most devastating volcanic eruptions to hit Asia in the past 100 years.

Mount Kelud, Indonesia

In 1919, over 5,000 people were killed when Mount Kelud erupted so violently that the top of the volcano was blown off.

The eruptions happened suddenly and were over relatively quickly for a volcano, lasting six to seven hours, Surono, the country’s top volcano expert said, according to ABC News.

The 1,731-metre volcano is located in Indonesia’s heavily populated island of Java, where hundreds of thousands live in close proximity to active volcanos.

Other major eruptions occurred in 1990, which resulted in more than 30 deaths and injured hundreds, and in 2014, which killed 3.

Mount Agung Indonesia

The Island of Bali, now one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations, became a scene of devastation in 1963 when Mount Agung erupted for the first time in 120 years, killing about 1,600 people.

Rumbling in February was followed by a series of eruptions, the most significant occurring on March 17, when the volcano spewed debris up to 10 km in the air, destroying dozens of villages within 7km radius.

In the days that followed, three villages in the lower mountain slopes were surrounded by streams of lava. Many survivors had to be hospitalised due to burns.

Food became another concern, with 200,000 people facing the risk of famine after hectares of rice crops were destroyed by lava flows.

Those outside the island were not spared the volcano’s wrath, with ash reaching as far as Madura and Surabaya in East Java province. Even parts of the country’s capital city, Jakarta, were affected.

Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Located in central Java, Mount Merapi is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Its name means “mountain of fire” in Javanese, and it has certainly lived up to it, often unleashing deadly pyroclastic flows when it erupts, which can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees centigrade, according to the Telegraph.

In 1930, a massive eruption occurred, destroying 13 villages and killing 1,400 people.

More recently, in 2010, a violent series of eruptions – its worst since 1930 – claimed hundreds of lives. Villages in the surrounding area went up in flames and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes, according to the BBC.

Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines was considered the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, according to the Rappler.

The volcano had remained dormant for almost 600 years when small signs of activity were observed on June 11. Four days later, on June 15, a massive eruption occurred, with the volcano emitting a cloud of debris 40 km above its crater.

The volume of material ejected was so large, it caused global temperatures to drop temporarily, according to USGS.

The volcano’s original crater was also destroyed by the blast, to be replaced by a new one with a lake.

Despite the intensity of the blast and the extent of the destruction in the surrounding areas, the death toll was surprisingly low. A total of 717 people lost their lives, Rappler reported, citing Phivolcs data. Of these, 281 of died indirectly from the eruption, 83 died because of lahars – volcanic mudflows – and 353 from exposure to diseases at evacuation centers.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Curiosity

President Xi emphasizes role of Hong Kong, Macau

Both Hong Kong and Macao were told to integrate with nation’s overall development. President Xi Jinping underlined on Monday the unique and irreplaceable role of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions for China’s reform and opening-up in the new era. He also called on the two regions to better integrate themselves with the nation’s overall development. Xi’s remarks came as he met with a delegation of about 210 representatives from the two SARs who were in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up. The position and role of Hong Kong and Macao will only be strengthened rather than weakened, Xi said. The two regions should continue to play a leading role and enable more capital, technology and talent to take part in the country’s high-quality development and in the new round of high-level opening-up, he said. People of the two regions should continu


By China Daily
November 13, 2018

Analysis, Curiosity

Report of NK’s ‘undisclosed’ missile bases not new, S. Korea says

South Korea’s presidential office on Tuesday played down a new report on North Korea’s “undisclosed” missile sites. South Korea’s government said that it’s going too far to call the North’s continued activity a “great deception” given that it has no specific agreement to dismantle or disclose the facilities mentioned in the report issued by Beyond Parallel, a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The group said it has located 13 out of an estimated 20 missile operating bases undeclared by the secretive communist regime. “The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations,” the report


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2018

Analysis, Curiosity

‘Forced repatriation’ to pose security risk

International crisis warns that forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees could pose serious security risks. The International Crisis Group has warned of serious security risks of “forced repatriation” of the Rohingya, just as Myanmar and Bangladesh prepare for the November 15 return of the refugees sheltered in Bangladesh. In a statement, the Brussels-based global advocacy body said Rohingyas strongly opposed the repatriation move and would do whatever they can to resist it. “This [forced repatriation] will increase tension in the camps and could lead to confrontations between refugees and Bangladesh security forces and greatly complicate humanitarian operations. “A botched repatriation attempt could potentially set back peace and development efforts by years,” said the statement released yesterday. It comes two weeks after Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Analysis, Curiosity

Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty honour

The Amnesty International has stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the latest of several honours taken away from her since last year’s brutal military crackdown on the Rohingyas. This is the eighth honour that the former Nobel peace prizewinner has been stripped of over the past year, with Amnesty following the example of Canada, US Holocaust Museum, UK’s Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle and Canada’s Carleton Universities which also revoked Suu Kyi’s honorary degrees and awards. The long-celebrated Nobel Laureate was given Amnesty’s most prestigious honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of her arrest and 20 years since it declared her a prisoner of conscience. The AI yesterday announced withdrawal of its highest honour fr


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Analysis, Curiosity

US calls on China to remove missiles from Spratly Islands

For the first time, the United States called on China to remove missiles it deployed on three fortified outposts it built in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the Department of State released in a statement on Saturday (Philippine time) after the high-level US-China diplomatic and security dialogue in Washington. Both US and China committed to supporting peace and stability in the South China Sea, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea in accordance with international law during the dialogue, it added.


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 12, 2018

Analysis, Curiosity

No further dismantlement at NK missile site

North Korea’s key missile site has not been dismantled further since August, a US website monitoring the regime said Thursday. North Korea has pledged to dismantle a missile engine testing site and a launch pad in Dongchang-ri as part of its stated commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. 38 North said satellite imagery from Oct. 31 indicates there has been no additional dismantlement activity since August. “Components that were previously removed remain stacked on the ground at both locations,” 38 North said in an article posted on its website. Meanwhile, the imagery shows new equipment, possibly for ventilation,


By The Korea Herald
November 9, 2018