14 July 2010

Fatal landslides in 2010: a half term report

Posted by Dave Petley

Long term readers of this blog will know that one of its original purposes was to disseminate the work that I do collating data on fatal landslides worldwide.  As the Attabad situation reduces in its intensity I plan to return to some of those key themes.  So here is a half term report on the occurrence of fatal landslides in 2010.

Numbers of landslides:
As of the end of 30th June I had recorded a total of 235 fatal landslide events worldwide, with a distribution by month that looks like this:

This is the highest number of fatal slides for the first six months of the year that I have recorded to date (i.e. since 2003).  In comparison, this graph shows the cumulative total number of fatal landslides for 2010, for 2009 (the previous record) and on average across 2003-2009:

So clearly the number of landslides is running well ahead of the norm for the end of June (remember that globally the main landslide season is in July to September due to the effects of the Asian monsoon.  It is not clear why this should be the case, but it may be associated with the transition from El Nino to La Nina conditions. 

Loss of life:
The number of recorded fatalities is 2,168, with the monthly distribution looking like this:

Again, this is much higher than for an average year, as the cumulative total plot demonstrates.  Note that the previous highest year was 2006 in this case – 2010 is just below this total, but has shown a consistent trend throughout:

Largest events:
The largest event in terms of recorded numbers of fatalities was the 2nd March 2010 landslide at Nametsi Village, Bududa in Uganda, which killed 358 people.  However, the numbers killed by landslides in the Haiti earthquake remains unknown.

Worst affected countries:
The top ten countries in terms of numbers of fatalities is as follows:

1 China 467
2 Uganda 373
3 Brazil 334
4 Guatemala 184
5 Indonesia 118
6 Peru 103
7 India 90
8 Pakistan 61
9 Bangladesh 55
10 Kenya 23

Given the high level of landsliding so far this year, the next few months will be interesting.