Difference Between Natural and Man Made Disaster

Main Difference – Natural vs Man Made Disaster 

Disaster is a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction. Disasters can be classified into two basic categories based on their cause. Natural disasters and man made disasters are these two basic categories. Natural disasters are the disasters caused by natural forces whereas man made disasters are caused by activities of human beings. This is the main difference between natural and man made disaster. However, both these types of disasters can have a major impact on the society.Difference Between Natural and Man Made Disaster - infographic

What is a Natural Disaster

A natural disaster is a disaster caused by nature, and men have no control over them. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, volcanic eruptions are some examples of natural disasters. Such disasters cause massive loss of life, property, and many other miseries. Let’s look at some of these examples in more details to have a better idea about the damages caused by natural disasters.

Floods are one of the most common natural disasters that occur in many regions of the world every year. Flood can be defined as a rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land. Heavy rainfall in a short duration of time can result in a flood. Although the loss of lives in a flood may be not as high as a tsunami or earthquake, floods result in many long term problems. Damage to human properties (houses, roads, bridges, power lines, etc.), shortage of food and drinking water, destruction of forests and animals, the spread of diseases, soil erosion are some effects of floods.

Drought is the opposite of flood. It is a long period of time during which there is very little or no rain. Sacristy of water, extensive crop damage, lack of food and drinking water, soil degradation and erosion, death of animals and conditions like malnutrition are some effects of drought.

Although natural disasters are caused by nature, not by humans, the activities of humans can have an influence on them. For instance, actions of men like cutting down trees and destroying the sources of water in an area can lead to droughts and wildfire.

Difference Between Natural and Man Made Disaster

What is a Man Made Disaster

A man made disaster is a disaster caused by human beings. Some examples of man made disasters include hazardous material spills, explosions, chemical or biological attacks, nuclear blasts, traffic collisions such as train accidents, plane crashes, etc. Most of these disasters are in the form accidents (except attacks) and cause deaths, injuries, and loss of property.

For example, the gas leak at an Indian pesticide plant in 1984 , which is commonly known as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a man made disaster. This was caused by the leak of toxic substances including methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. This disaster affected thousands of lives.

The great Smog of London (1952) is another example of a man made disaster. This smog resulted in a period of cold weather combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions; the main cause for this disaster was severe air-pollution. This caused about 4000 thousand deaths and other respiratory problems.

Just as natural disasters are influenced by human activities, man made disasters too can be influenced by nature. For example, the massive earthquake and tsunami (natural disaster) in Japan in 2011 also caused nuclear accidents.

Main Difference - Natural vs Man Made Disaster

Difference Between Natural and Man Made Disaster 


Natural Disaster: Natural disasters are caused by natural forces.

Man Made Disaster: Man Made Disasters are caused by the activities of men.


Natural Disaster: Some examples of natural disasters include tsunamis, floods, landslides, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, volcanic eruptions, etc.

Man Made Disaster: Some examples of man made disasters include hazardous material spills, explosions, chemical or biological attacks, etc.


Natural Disaster: Steps can be taken to minimize the effects of natural disasters. 

Man Made Disaster: Man made disasters can be avoided with careful planning and prevention methods.

Image Courtesy:

By BLM – (Public Domain) via

“Studenka train accident” By Jiří Karlík from Studénka, Czech Republic – EC Komenius nr.108, engine nr.18, via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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