23 July 2012
A weekend of landslide incidents
Posted by Dave Petley
This weekend has seen substantial landslide incidents around the world. Here are just a few of them, in no particular order:
1. An ongoing local landslide emergency in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada
Thanks to Andrew Giles for highlighting this one. The town of Quesnel in British Columbia, Canada has declared a local state of emergency because of a landslide dam that is partially blocking a river, Baker Creek, upstream of the town:
The concern is that the blockage could fail quickly, releasing a flash flood that would affect houses downstream. However, it should be noted that the dam is considered to be unlikely to fail rapidly, and trhat the peak flood is expected to be less than that experienced during flood season.
2. A landslide blocked the Trans-Canada highway near to Banff
Meanwhile the very heavy rainfall in western Canada continues to induce landslides, with the latest occurring on Friday near to Banff. This time a large landslide crossed and blocked the trans-Canada highway close to Banff:
It is a little difficult to work out if this is a failure of the cut slope of a flow that has come down a gully, but either way the impact is clearly substantial. The road has now reopened.
UPDATE: Please see an account of this landslide on the blog of my fellow AGU blogger, Callan Bentley.
3. The cause of death in the Beaminster landslide, England
Meanwhile, the coroner in Dorset, England has released the cause of death for the two people killed in the Beaminster landslide in Dorset. It will be reassuring to all concerned that both victims died quickly. In fact, although there is remarkably little information available as to how victims actually die in landslides, these two victims do seem to have succumbed to what is assumed to be the two most common causes of landslide death. One victim was killed by a blunt trauma, in this case causing a broken neck, the other to chest compression. The implications of this are that the failure to realise that there was a car buried in the debris had no implications for the survival of the two unfortunate victims.
4. A landslide-induced fatal rail crash in India
On Thursday night a train collision occurred near to Khardi Station in Kasara, India. The accident led to the death of a woman, whilst 14 others were injured. The initial cause of the accident was a boulder, which detached from an adjacent hill and rolled onto the track before striking a local train, which in turn derailed before being struck by the Vidarbha Express train.
5. A tragic bus accident in India
The worst accident was a bus crash near Keifang, about 100 km east of Aizawl, Arunachal Pradesh, when monsoon rainfall triggered a landslide that struck a bus on a mountain road. The bus was pushed off the highway and fell about 45 m into a deep gorge, killing 18 people and leaving another 17 injured. Sadly, such bus crashes are common in the Himalaya mountains.
6. A fatal landslide in Austria
On Friday night a rainfall-induced mudslide hit the village of Thoerl in Styria, Austria, killing a man. The mudslides were reportedly up to 10 m deep.
7. A fatal landslide in Mexico
Thanks to Lisa Denke for highlighting this one to me. A landslide in Mexico on Friday killed a truck driver (NB the image in this report, which is in Spanish, is disturbing). The landslide struck the truck close to midnight on the Durango-Mazatlan road, pushing the truck into the river.
8. A fatal landslide in Beijing, China
Beijing suffered exceptionally heavy rainfall on Saturday, triggering widespread floods. In the Shijingshan district a landslide on Saturday night buried a row of small shops, killing a couple and injuring a young woman, who was reportedly trapped for several hours.
9. Six killed by landslides in Sichuan, China
Finally, this report has rather sketchy information about six deaths from landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Sichuan Province on Saturday. At present I have no more information about this event.
What, not even a shout out for your fellow AGU blogger Callan Bentley, who posted about event #2?
The best accounts I can find of the Keifang (23°40’17.08″N 92°57’43.55″E) accident (Number 5) are in the The Telegraph of Calcutta. It appears that the bus was passing below the elevated slope of a quarry when a rockfall happened knocking the bus over a cliff. Apparently people had been warning of this threat for some time. It is not specified whether the rockfall was rain induced or not. See:
There are 2009 photographs of the quarry but the accompanying text is in Mizo:
This kind of quarry disaster is not unknown in Mizoram. On the 9th August 1995 there was a large collapse at the Hlimen quarry (23°40’51.36″N 92°43’3.05″E), 15.5 miles (25 km) west of Keifang which killed 67 people. See (page 9):
On the 20th September 2005 there was another collapse at the Hlimen quarry destroying six houses although there were no casualties this time:
Impressive photographs of the Hlimen quarry: