5 October 2010

Tailings landslide in Hungary and a dam crisis in Vietnam

Posted by Dave Petley

News today, barely covered in the international mainstream media so far, of a new tailings-related landslide in Hungary yesterday.  The only English report that I have seen so far is on the Chinese CriEnglish website, which reports that 700,000 cubic metres of bauxite ore formed a flow that struck three villages in Veszprem county.  These villages appear to be Devecser, Somlóvásárhely and Kolontar. 

The Google Earth imagery of this area shows the origin if the accident rather clearly as the red bauxite ore in the lagoon is fairly obvious.  This location is confirmed by an article on NOL.

Interestingly, a slightly older Google Earth image is also available (this is from March 2008, whereas the one above is from October that year).  This image appears to show a rather less full lagoon:

Reading Hungarian news reports is not my strong point, but MNO has a detailed article on the event.  This suggests that three people have been killed and 113 injured, of which 73 people required hospital treatment. Unfortunately, bauxite ore was is a very nasty material, causing alkali burns, so some of the injuries could be very serious. The residue of the disaster is pretty foul as the MNO article illustrates:

I haven’t yet seen any images of the embankment failure that caused this event – I expect that these will appear online today.  I will post again when these are available.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam there are reports of a rather different crisis.  Vietnam Net Bridge reports that 20,000 people have been evacuated from below the Ho Ho Dam in Huong Khe district of Ha Tinh province.  The reports suggest that during the ongoing heavy rainfall the spillway door jammed closed, causing the lake to overtop the dam.  Although the door has now been fixed, concerns remain that the dam may collapse.