18 June 2010

A week of landslides around the world

Posted by Dave Petley

Alongside the continuing Attabad crisis, here is a summary of the last week in landslide events (in no particular order).  The list is not exhaustive by any account, but these are the stories that caught my eye:

1.The Oliver debris flow in Canada
I covered this event in a post or two earlier in the week.  It is now clear that the trigger was the overtopping and eventual failure (through a breach) of a small earthen dam high in the catchment (image from here):

The authorities were warned by a hiker that the lake was overtopping two days before the failure.  It appears that there is now a great deal of soul searching occurring in Canada regarding the safety of these old and often poorly maintained structures.

2. A deadly landslide in Burma
No complaints please – I will not be drawn into using the other name for Burma imposed by the illegal and immoral junta that runs that country.  Anyway, Bangladesh and Burma both suffered very heavy rainfall this week, triggering landslides across a wide area.  In Burma a slide killed 56 people in Maungtaw and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine state, according to Xinhua.

3. Deadly landslides in Bangladesh
Meanwhile the same rainstorm caused chaos across a large part of the Cox’s Bazaarand Bandarban areas of Bangladesh, with multiple landslides killing at least 55 people.  As is so often the case, the blame is being laid at the door of deforestation and slope cutting.

4. Two slope accidents in China
China also suffered two terrible slope accidents this week. In the first, on Monday, 24 people were killed when a debris flow hit vehicles on a road in Nanping, in eastern Fujian Province.  In the second, on Tuesday, a 40,000 cubic metre rockfall occurred at a hydroelectric project construction site in Pengta Town, Kangding County in Sichuan, killing 23 people.  Meanwhile, as a I write, reports suggest that another slide in China today has killed up to five people in Taohua Village, Chun’an County in Zhejiang Province.

5. An interesting hit pit wall collapse in Australia
ABC News carries a story today about a large scale high pit wall collapse in the Savage River iron ore in Tasmania:

Note the excavator at the pit bottom for scale.  The slide is reportedly 140,000 cubic metres in volume.  There were no injuries or fatalities in this event.

6. Landslides in Darjeeling, India.
The ever-impressive Savethehills blog reports on landslides this week triggered by heavy rainfall in Darjeeling.  One slide, in Tirpai, Kalimpong, killed three people.  Readers may be interested in the dramatic video on this page, which shows a small landslide in action, with the unfortunate effect of the loss of a truck: