16 November 2009

Mining related loess landslide in China kills at least 12

Posted by Dave Petley

See update here

The Chinese language version of the Xinhua website is reporting that a landslide occurred this morning in Zhangzishan Township, Zhongyang County, Luliang in Shanxi province, burying five houses. Reports suggest that about 25 people were buried – of these two have been rescued alive whilst 12 bodies have been recovered so far. Xinhua has images of the scene:

You may well have noticed the slightly odd aspect of this slide – which is that there is snow on the ground. Landslides under these conditions are not that common unless there is rapid snow melt occurring (which is unlikely at this time of year). However, the proper explanation probably lies in the fact that the houses that were hit were the temporary camp from a coal mine. This material that makes up the slide does not look like loess not coal waste, but the landscape does look like it has been excavated and disturbed, so I suspect that this is another tragic accident in a long history of mining accidents in China.

Typically, the Google Earth image of the area is low resolution in the area of interest (the reported location is at the bottom of the image):

However, zooming into the loess area at the top of the slide suggests that open pit coal mines are active in this area:

See update here