5 January 2012

Major landslide in the Philippines – at least 25 killed, many more reported missing

Posted by Dave Petley

The first major landslide of 2012 has occurred just five days into the New Year.  Early this morning a landslide occurred at the gold mining community of Napnapan village, which is in the area of Pantukan township in the Campostela Valley on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.  The landslide, which is reported to have happened during heavy rainfall at about 3 am struck at least 50 dwellings.  To date 25 bodies have been recovered, with up to 100 more people reported missing.

The Campostela Valley is undoubtedly a global hotspot for devastating landslides.  This is due to a combination of steep terrain, very heavy rainfall, poor communities and unregulated gold mining.  Indeed, the community that has been destroyed is a mining village, although at this stage it is unclear as to whether this was a factor.

News about this disaster remains sketchy, primarily because the site is very remote.  The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council are posting bulletins.  At the time of writing, Bulletin No 2 confirms that 25 people are known to have died, 16 people have been injured, eight people are known to be missing, and up to 150 in total may be buried.

The best overview image of this landslide that I have been able to track down to date is this one, from Newsday:



This does seem to concur with the suggestion in the newspaper articles that the landslide has struck the centre of this small community.  Given the steepness of the terrain the movement rate was probably very fast.  The location of buildings close to both the crown of the landslide source, and to its lateral margins, does suggest that there may have been some human activity in this area.  Given the steepness of the terrain and the lack of obvious agricultural activity, mining must be a strong possibility.  Some newspaper reports suggest that cracks had been previously identified on this hillslope.


Meanwhile ABS-CBN have this image of the source area: