Although the number of natural disasters declined from last year - by a mere one (as 2,342 natural disasters were counted in 2016) - the figure is the second-highest in the past 15 years, showing the need for authorities to continue improving monitoring, mitigation, and risk management in order to prevent casualties and damage.

In 2017 Indonesia was plagued by 787 floods, 716 tornadoes, 614 landslides, 96 forest (and land) fires, 76 floods & landslides, 19 droughts, 20 earthquakes, 11 tidal waves & abrasion, and two volcanic eruptions.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for BNPB, said around 99 percent of these disasters involve a hydrometeorological disaster, referring to a disaster that is caused by weather and surface flows.

Natural disasters can have a big impact on people. A total of 377 people were killed (or disappeared) due to natural disasters in Indonesia in 2017 (down from 522 casualties in 2016), while a total of 1,005 people were injured and 3,494,319 people were displaced or suffered in some other way from a disaster.

Landslides are regarded the biggest threat as they killed 156 people in 2017, while injuring another 168 people and displacing 52,930 people. In the 2014-2017 period, BNPB notes that landslides have been the deadliest natural disaster in Indonesia. Often a landslide is small but causes the death of one family. The problem is that many houses in the rural areas are positioned in areas that are vulnerable to landslides.

Natural disasters can also cause damage to infrastructure and property. In 2017 a total of 47,442 houses were damaged (including 10,457 heavily damaged houses), while 365,194 houses were flooded, and 2,083 units of public facilities were damaged (mostly educational centers and places of worship).

Due to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area with a high degree of tectonic activity), Indonesia has to cope with the constant risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

On Wednesday (27/12) Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra experienced its biggest eruption of the year. The volcano, which had been silent for about four centuries, came back to life in 2010 and has been erupting steadily ever since 2015, resulting in more than 3,000 families being displaced. Meanwhile, Mount Agung on Bali has also been erupting since September, causing the evacuation of 140,000 people.

Natural Disasters in Indonesia 2013-2017:

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Number of Natural Disasters 1,674 1,967 1,732 2,342 2,341

Source: National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB)