27 May 2009

Landslides from Cyclone Alia in Darjeeling

Posted by Dave Petley

One of the most admirable landslide websites that I know is the Save the Hills blog, which is the mouthpiece of a community level group trying to raise awareness of the problems of landslides in Darjeeling in NE India. I have featured this site several times before.

As Cyclone Alia has closed in on the area over the last few days See below) they have been warning of the danger of landslides triggered by the rainfall that the cyclone would inevitably bring. The Cyclone passed across the area yesterday – and sure enough reports are now emerging of the landslides that the rainfall has triggered. At the time of writing Sify is reporting 22 killed in landslides, with 10 injured and another six people reported missing. Over 100 landslides have been reported. The Times of India reports that 245 mm of rainfall fell in a 24 hour period.

Meanwhile, in the last few days there are also reports of a large landslide in Sialum District in Morobe province of Papua New Guinea, which is reported to have killed 19 people (although the picture is still rather unclear), landslides in Bhutan with at least one fatality, mudslides in Uttar Pradesh in India that killed eight people, and landslides in Guangdong that have killed four. Finally, there are some very unclear reports about the magnitude of the impact of heavy rainfall in Afghanistan, with reports of about 95 people killed in landslides and floods.

Sadly, none of this is particularly unusual as we are seeing the impacts of the development of the summer monsoon across Asia.