8 June 2009

Background to the Chongqing landslide

Posted by Dave Petley

According to this report, rescue operations for the 27 miners trapped in a mine beneath the Chongqing landslide have been suspended due to bad weather. As I mentioned in my earlier post, working on a fresh rockslide deposit is exceptionally dangerous, so this is a wise decision. However, the outlook for the trapped miners must be looking increasingly bleak, given that it now appears that they are trapped 200 m underground and heavy machinery is not being used.

The above article has some very interesting and pertinent information about the context of the landslide. It quotes local residents as saying that the mine in question, which opened in 1949, was closed in 2000 “after being labelled dangerous by an official geological survey team”. However, work resumed in 2004 under private ownership, whereupon landslides started to occur from the slope. In 2004 “masses fell from the mountain into the valley… after which the Tiekuang government offices, local school and circa 70 residencies were moved. But 40 of those people buried by the landslide decided to stay in the area, after local officials assured them that there were no problems.”

The mine owner has been arrested, but the local people are critical that the local media is reporting the landslide as having been natural: “it wasn’t a natural disaster; human error is the only thing to blame for the tragedy”.