23 May 2010

Meanwhile, elsewhere

Posted by Dave Petley

Although all eyes, and increasingly those of the media (which is showing considerable interest in this blog), are on Attabad, other landslides are happening around the world as we enter the rainy season in many landslide prone areas of the Northern Hemisphere.  In the last few days a number of significant landslide events have occurred:

1. A landslide-induced rail crash in China this morning.
Xinhua reports that an 8000 cubic metre, rainfall-induced landslide derailed a train on the line between Shanghai and Guilin in Dongxiang county in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.  It is reported that 19 people were killed and a further 71 people were injured.  Xinhua has two images of the landslide, which appears to have occurred on a modified slope in deep, highly weathered soils:

Thus one may be the most telling, as it is clear that just above the top of the slide, on the right side, the slope has been regraded, and indeed there is clearly some fill in the exposed slope section, suggesting that the two of the slide was in a part of the slope that had been modified:

 2. The first serious rainfall event of the year has happened in Taiwan
In Taiwan there is deep concern about the likely impact of landfalling typhoons this year, given the devastating impact of Typhoon Morakot last August.  Those fears will have been heightened today as the first real rainfall event of the year occurred.  The Central Weather Bureau has published an image of the rainfall totals for the day:

Of course in most places such rainfall totals (>200 mm in a day) would represent an exceptional event.  In Taiwan this qualifies as a light shower, but nonetheless there has been some landsliding in the mountains, with the resort town of Tungpu being cut off as a result of rockfalls.  Taiwan is going to be very interesting to watch again this year; with continued inadequate means to manage slopes nationwide I fear for what might occur.

3. Sri Lanka is suffering its May landslide problem
Sri Lanka often suffers heavy rains in May as the SW monsoon starts up.  This year is no different, with a series of storms associated with Cyclone Laila triggering widespread flooding and landslides.  The Disaster Management Centre is reported to have said that 20 people have been killed, and 500,000 people have been affected.

I will post an update on Attabad tomorrow morning at about 7:30 am UT.