13 October 2016

Nepal landslides 2016: losses at the end of the rainy season

Posted by dr-dave

Nepal landslides 2016

As the rainy season comes to an end in Nepal, it is now possible to assess the impact of landslides across the country.  As usual I have been compiling statistics on landslide impacts in terms of loss of life;  I have this data back to 1980.  I had anticipated that 2016 might be a bad year given the continued unconstrained development of poorly engineered roads and other structures in the Hill Districts, and the after effects of the 2015 earthquake.

The outcome is interesting.  In terms of landslide events that caused loss of life (and excluding the 2015 earthquake, which triggered many landslides), 2016 was the worst year in my dataset – i.e. the worst for at least 36 years.  I have recorded 61 fatal landslide events in 2016, whereas the previous worst year was 2002 with 58 events, and then 2009 with 49.  However, in terms of loss of life 2016 did not set any records, which is good.  I have recorded 184 fatalities (a number that is of course far too high). The record is still 2002 with 342 deaths, and the toll was higher than that of 2016 in 2001, 2003, 2014 and 2015 (excluding the earthquake).  This reflects the lack of events that kill large numbers of people at once; 2016 seems to have been characterised by large numbers of smaller events rather than small numbers of very large events.

This is the updated graph of the number of fatalities per year since 1980:

Nepal landslides 2016

Nepal landslides 2016: The number of fatal landslides and the number of deaths per year in Nepal since 1980

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Nepal landslides 2016

Nepal landslides 2016: Cumulative totals of the number of fatal landslides and the number of deaths per year in Nepal since 1980

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As you can see 2016 does stand out as an exceptional year in terms of numbers of landslide events.  The overall trend in landslide losses over the last 10 years remains strongly linear, suggesting that we are getting no better (but also no worse) at reducing landslide losses in the country:

Nepal landslides 2016

Nepal landslides 2016: cumulative losses over the last decade

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Nepal landslides 2016: Other posts that might be of interest