MANILA, Philippines – Super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) smashed into the Philippines on Friday, November 8, the latest in a never-ending pattern of storms that hits the country.
The archipelago of more than 7,100 islands is hit by an average of 20 typhoons or tropical storms each year, which kill hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.
The storms are created above the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean near the equator, and the Philippines’ islands are often the first major landmass they hit as they move northwest.
Some government authorities say climate change is increasing the ferocity and frequency of the typhoons.
Haiyan is one of the strongest ever recorded in the world, and is the country’s 24th tropical storm or typhoon of the year, exceeding the annual average.
However some scientists say it is premature to blame climate change, and the Philippines has endured many devastating typhoons that have each claimed many hundreds of lives.
The following are the 10 deadliest typhoons on record in the Philippines.*
1. Tropical Storm Uring (international name: Thelma) unleashed flash floods on the central city of Ormoc on Leyte island on Nov 15, 1991, killing more than 5,100.
2. Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) smashed into the main southern island of Mindanao on Dec 3, 2012. Rarely hit by major storms, the unprepared region suffered about 1,900 people dead or missing.
3. Typhoon Nitang (Ike) hit central Philippines on Aug 31, 1984, killing 1,363 people.
4. Typhoon Sendong (Washi) hit the northern part of Mindanao island on Dec 16, 2011, killing at least 1,080 people.
5. Floods and landslides unleashed by Typhoon Trix killed 995 people in the Bicol region of the main island of Luzon on Oct 16, 1952.
6. Typhoon Amy raked across the central islands on Dec 9, 1951, killing 991 people as it unleashed floods and landslides and caused a massive storm surge that destroyed large sections of Negros island’s west coast.
7. Storm surges struck the eastern city of Legazpi on Nov 25, 1987 as Typhoon Sisang (Nina) roared into the Bicol region, where it also unleashed deadly mudslides down Mayon volcano. The disaster caused 979 deaths.
8. Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) tracked an erratic and destructive path across the central islands and nearby areas from June 20, 2008, killing 938 people.
9. Typhoon Rosing (Angela), one of the strongest storms to ever hit the Philippines with gusts of up to 260 kilometers an hour, caused carnage in Bicol and later Manila from Nov 2, 1995, killing 936 people.
10. Typhoon Undang (Agnes) struck the central islands on Nov 5, 1984, killing 895 people.
* Data is on government records and those compiled by David Padua, a meteorologist for weather forecasting website The Weather Philippines Foundation. Photos from AFP and Rappler.