Difference Between Natural Disaster and Man Made Disaster

Natural Disaster vs Man Made Disaster

History of mankind is replete with both natural disasters as well as man made disasters. However, the point to note is that whereas in ancient times it were only natural disasters that caused havoc on humanity, today man made disasters are playing an equal, if not bigger role in causing destruction of life and property at places of the world. The sad and tragic part of this debate between natural and man made disasters is that as mankind has developed and become technologically advanced, frequency and magnitude of man made disasters has increased in the same proportion. This has led many to believe that man made disasters that are avoidable, are more tragic in the sense that innocent lives lost in these disasters could have been saved. Let us take a closer look at these two categories of disasters; the natural disaster and man made disaster.

Natural disasters

Earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados, t-sunami and other such hazards are natural disasters that have led to colossal loss of property and lives since ancient times. These disasters create more havoc when they occur near human colonies resulting in huge financial and property losses apart from claiming priceless and innocent lives. A natural hazard is not termed as a disaster if it takes place in a remote area that is not inhabited by human beings.

There have been umpteen incidents of floods, droughts, Tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the past 100 years that have resulted in millions of people losing their lives with incalculable loss of property in places where they occurred. Health hazards are also included in the list of natural disasters as medicines and drugs were not available at the time epidemics struck claiming millions of lives. The worst in the last 100 years was the spread of Spanish Flu in 1918 that claimed 50 million lives worldwide.

Man made disasters

Man made disasters are those disasters that may be smaller in magnitude but have increased in frequency with all the development and advancement. These are hazards that are a result of human intent or negligence, or result from human designs that cannot withstand natural forces.

There has always been crime in human societies but it has rarely caused as much havoc as terrorism, which is a special type of crime against humanity. Terrorism has become an international phenomenon and the world saw its horrible consequences with the infamous 9/11 incident in US in which there was colossal loss of property and nearly 3000 human lives.

Civil wars raging inside many nations of the world are another example of man made disasters that result in loss of property and lives. Wars between nations are ongoing phenomenons that cause innumerable deaths and loss of property. However, no war can match the intensity and loss that resulted from the two World Wars.

Accidents are another man made disaster that cause loss of lives and property. All over the world mining accidents have taken place, which also has an environmental impact. The Bhopal Gas tragedy in India and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the erstwhile Soviet Union are some of the worst man made disasters. The recent Tsunami that struck Japan was a natural disaster but the way it affected the nuclear reactors there transformed itself in a man made disaster of a huge magnitude.


As their names indicate, natural disasters are natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, epidemics, wildfires etc that result in loss of lives and property. On the other hand, disasters that strike mankind due to either intent or negligence of humans are man made disasters. Some of the examples are wars, civil wars, terrorism, errors in designing, nuclear disasters, industrial disasters etc.

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