18 October 2013

A brief update on, and first images of, the astonishing Izu-Oshima debris flow in Japan

Posted by Dave Petley

Although the amount of publicity in the west seems remarkably low, in Japan efforts are continuing to recover those lost from the catastrophic Izu-Oshima debris flow event.  This event triggered by the passage of typhoon Wipha earlier this week, has caused immense damage.  According to Yomiuri Online, in Japanese, to date 23 bodies have been recovered whilst another 26 people remain missing.  Unfortunately, now that the 72 hour mark since the disaster has passed, the likelihood of any further survivors being found is very low.

Images of the site remain quite difficult to locate.  The best I have found to date is this one, from the BBC News website:

13_10 Wipha 3..

There are very few images of the source of the Izu-Oshima debris flow – the best I have come up with is the video on this Japanese website.  But – wow, this is quite amazing.  These two are screenshots from the video (excuse the low resolution):

13_10 Wipha 4..

13_10 Wipha 5..

So the landslides here are not what one would expect – instead of being simple slips that channelised into debris flows they are multiple, massive slope failures.  This is quite an exceptional event – I hope that better images will become available soon. It is not hard to see why so many lives have been lost.