7 August 2009

Valley blocking landslide in China

Posted by Dave Petley

The web site China.org.cn is reporting a major valley blocking landslide on the Dadu River in Sichuan:

“A massive landslide in southwest China’s Sichuan Province has killed at least one person and injured 19 others, local officials said Friday morning. The landslide, which occurred at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday in Shunhe Township of Hanyuan County, also blocked a major local river, leaving six local residents stranded, said officials from the county government. The local government is still verifying the casualties. Minor landslides still took place from time to time at the site Friday morning.

The landslide has formed a 250m-long barrier blocking the local Dadu River. By 3:30 a.m. Friday, the water had overrun the obstruction, posing a danger to the lower reaches of the river. The runoff at the power station’s dam is 240 cubic meters per second, compared with a flow of 2,760 cubic meters per second Thursday. The provincial government has ordered an evacuation of the people living at the lower reaches of the river to avoid further casualties. A provincial-level working team is also rushing to the scene to direct rescue work.”

The Dadu River is famous for the disastrous valley-blocking landslides after the 1786 earthquake, which are believed to have killed 100,000 people when they failed. This area was also affected by the shaking from the Wenchuan Earthquake.

The report is somewhat contradictory about whether the river is still blocked, but at this time of year, and considering the amount of rain that the area has received this monsoon, the flow rate into a lake will be high.