15 April 2015

The Himara viaduct landslide in Sicily, Italy

Posted by Dave Petley

Himara Viaduct landslide

A landslide beneath one of the pillars supporting the Himara viaduct in Sicily, southern Italy has generated a huge furore.  The landslide itself occurred last Friday, displacing at least two of the pillars supporting the key A19 highway that links the cities of Catania and Palermo.  There is not a huge amount of detail about the landslide in the English language media, although the English version of Gazzetta del Sud has a nice report.  There is an excellent gallery of images on the Corriere Del Mezzogiorno website, which includes this one showing the displaced pillars:-


This one showing the landslide (note the highly displaced and damaged ground in the foreground):


And this one showing the road damage:


The landslide appears to have pushed the pillars forwards, which suggests that it is probably translational and possibly not very deep.  Nonetheless the damage in undoubtedly terminal for the viaduct.  Indeed, the infrastructure minister has now confirmed that this section of the Himara viaduct will need to be demolished.  The estimated rebuild time is two years.

The row, which has led to the resignation of the head of the highways agency ANAS, is over both the state of the road and the failure to mitigate the landslide.  In particular, it appears that at least some funds were set aside to stabilise the A19, but this money has not been spent.   However, it is also likely that the level of funding was inadequate.

Of course the summer season is about to start, so the loss of this road will have a big impact on the tourism business.