11 November 2009

A surprising spell of landslides

Posted by Dave Petley

In most years in which I have been collecting landslide fatality statistics (since 2002) November has been a month with quite low landslide occurrence. Not this year though – in fact the last few days have been more like the summer monsoon season, with fatal landslides occurring in a wide range of places. Examples include:

  • El Salvador on 6th November, in which the volcanic lahars triggered by Hurricane Ida appear to have killed over 100 people, with a few (very speculative) reports of rather more;
  • South Sulawesi in Indonesia, when 13 people were killed in a slide Palopo;
  • Tamil Nadu on 9th and 10th November, when a number of landslides killed at least 30 people;
  • Casamicciola on Ischia in Italy on 9th November, when a 15 year old girl was killed by a slide that carried her out to sea in a bus;
  • Bukittinggi in West Sumatra on 10th November, when two people were killed;
  • Wassa-Akropong in Ghana on 10th November, when up to 30 people were killed in a landslide in an illegal mine;
  • Goha village in Tanzania on 10th November, when 20 people were killed in a landslide.

In addition there have been reports of non-fatal landslides in the USA, Serbia, Vietnam, etc. I cannot tell at the moment whether this is just coincidence or something more significant, perhaps due to the El Nino conditions. With Cyclone Phyan currently bringing heavy rainfall to central western India, an area that is landslide-prone, there could be further events in the next few days.