Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2683–2695, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-2683-2016
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2683–2695, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-2683-2016

Research article 15 Dec 2016

Research article | 15 Dec 2016

The December 2012 Mayo River debris flow triggered by Super Typhoon Bopha in Mindanao, Philippines: lessons learned and questions raised

Kelvin S. Rodolfo1,2, A. Mahar F. Lagmay3,4, Rodrigo C. Eco4, Tatum Miko L. Herrero4,a, Jerico E. Mendoza3, Likha G. Minimo4, and Joy T. Santiago3 Kelvin S. Rodolfo et al.
  • 1Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA
  • 2Project NOAH consultant in 2013
  • 3Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, Department of Science and Technology, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
  • 4Volcano-Tectonics Laboratory, National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Philippines
  • anow at: Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems, GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Category 5 Super Typhoon Bopha, the world's worst storm of 2012, formed abnormally close to the Equator, and its landfall on Mindanao set the record proximity to the Equator for its category. Its torrential rains generated an enormous debris flow in the Mayo River watershed that swept away much of the village Andap in the New Bataan municipality, burying areas under rubble as thick as 9 m and killing 566 people. Established in 1968, New Bataan had never experienced super typhoons and debris flows. This unfamiliarity compounded the death and damage. We describe Bopha's history, debris flows and the Mayo River disaster, and then we discuss how population growth contributed to the catastrophe, as well as the possibility that climate change may render other near-Equatorial areas vulnerable to hazards brought on by similar typhoons. Finally, we recommend measures to minimize the loss of life and damage to property from similar future events.

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Short summary
In 2012, a village in southern Philippines was wiped out by catastrophic debris flows generated Super Typhoon Bopha. This area of the country is seldom hit by strong typhoons; nevertheless, geologic evidence shows that such events have happened in the past. We put this in the context of the expansion of human settlements to understand why the disaster happened. Doing so will enable communities that are not used to such events to prepare for them.
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