4 January 2013

A round-up of recent landslide stories and incidents

Posted by Dave Petley

A few landslide stories and incidents that have caught my eye in the last few days:

1. Fears of landslides in Rio de Janeiro

January 2011 was marked by a series of terrible landslides in Brazil, that caused extensive loss of life and damage.  Unfortunately, news reports suggest that this area is again suffering very heavy rainfall, with fears that landslides will once again be a major issue.  Hopefully this will come to nothing, but this will be worth watching over the next few days and weeks.

2. Another landslide in Malaysia

Thanks to John Oostenryk for the heads up on this one.  Another landslide occurred in Malaysia last night – this time a mud flow at Subang Jaya – which inundated seven vehicles.  NST has an image of the aftermath:


No-one was killed or injured, but the incident does further emphasize the need to manage slopes in Malaysia more proactively.  Meanwhile, demolition of the houses at the top of the Bukit Setiawangsa landslide continues.  Media interest in this story remains very high in Malaysia, and today there is extensive coverage of the news that the house owners won’t be compensated for their losses.

3. An interesting landslide in New Zealand

On Wednesday a large landslide occurred in response to heavy rainfall at Kahurangi National Park in the northwest corner of South Island,leading to helicopter rescues of several trekkers caught on the wrong side of it.  Radio New Zealand has an image of the landslide, which has an interesting morphology:


4. Further landslide problems in the UK

Although the heavy rainfall appears to have abated, for the next few days at least, high groundwater levels are as expected leading to ongoing landslide problems across the country.  Issues include coastal landslides in East Anglia, Dorset and the Isle of Wight; road closures in Northumberland, Shropshire and Oxfordshire; and of course the ongoing landslide problems in for example Wales.  Expect more landslide stories in the coming weeks as deeper landslides continue to activate and move.  Meanwhile there is an interesting and reassuring interest now in the implications of the changes in rainfall patterns that are affecting the UK. As the report indicates, more research is needed.  This is somewhat urgent now.