19 May 2008

Updated: Sichuan Earthquake aftermath – landslides are taking a terrible toll

Posted by Dave Petley

In previous posts I have warned that landslides will wreak a terrible toll in the aftermath of the earthquake. Sadly, this appears to be all too true. Xinhua is today carrying this report:

More than 200 relief workers, engaged in repairing the broken roads in the quake-stricken Sichuan Province, had been buried in mud flows over the past three days, said Dai Dongchang, an official with the Ministry of Transport on Monday. Two construction machines and six vehicles were also buried in the mud flows, he said.

Given that the summer rains have not really started as yet, the problems that this area faces are all too clear.

Update: the report has now been changed to:
Five vehicles were buried over the weekend by mud flows as they attempted to leave quake-ravaged regions of Sichuan Province, and an estimated 158 people were known to have been on board, a transport official told Xinhua on Monday. The death toll was not confirmed as rescue work was still underway, said Director of Road Traffic Dai Dongchang with the Ministry of Transport in an interview. Dai earlier told the central government website (www.gov.cn) that more than 158 relief workers with the Sichuan transportation department were trapped by mud flows. The identities of the victims were yet to be confirmed, he said. The official confirmed two construction machines were buried by mud flows but the drivers escaped in time, with no injuries. The official admitted that mud flows and aftershocks following the deadly quake and blocked rivers swollen by heavy rain had hampered restoration of roads and rescue work in the quake zone.