8 August 2010

Updated: A devastating landslide in China is reported to have killed at least 96 people

Posted by Dave Petley

Updated at 09:40 UT to provide the correct location.

The dreadful effects of the 2010 summer monsoon continue.  Over the next couple of hours I will try to provide an update on all of the events of the last 36 hours, but I’ll start with the overnight landslide in China.

Xinhua reports that “At least 96 people have been confirmed dead in landslides triggered by torrential rains in northwest China’s Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, said local resuce headquarters.  As of noon, more than 680 residents had been rescued.”.

Judging by the CCTV report available here, the landslide appears to have occurred downstream of Zhouqu town, creating a barrier lake that has now flooded the city centre.  The landslide is reported to have occurred at 1 am local time.  There may also have been some debris flows – this rather poor image, captured from the CCTV footage appears to show a debris flow deposit: 

Some Xinhua reports suggest that up to 2000 people may be missing, but this information should be treated with great caution at this stage as it is likely that the true picture is confused at the moment.  However, as the Chinese Premier is on his way to the site it is likely that this is very serious.

A Google Earth perspective view shows the mountains around Zhouqu town:

It is not yet clear where the landslide occurred, or which part of the town has been affected.

I’ll post again on this as more information becomes available.  First update available here.