18 May 2008
Reports and images are now emerging of the complete burial of three villages, Donghekou, Ciban and Kangle, located on the Qingzhu river in Sichuan Provinc as a result of (separate) landslides in the Sichuan Earthquake. In particular, images are now available of Doghekou, which is one of the landslides that has blocked the river upstream of Beichuan. These three landslides have together entombed an estimated 300 families, which would indicate a death toll of about 1000 people based upon an average household size of 3.32.
The Donghekou landslide appears to be very large. AP have released the following images. The caption describes this as a mountain collapse, which would seem to be appropriate for a slide of this size. Note that in at least one case the rising water levels behind the landslide dam can be seen. The hazards of this should not be under-estimated. The landslide appears to consist of very disaggregated and fragmented material, not the bouldery surface that we usually see for rock avalanches.