30 April 2015

Upper Bhote Kosi: videos of the damage and rockfalls in northern Nepal

Posted by Dave Petley

Upper Bhote Kosi

The Last Resort is a bungy jumping centre located in the Upper Bhote Kosi valley northeast of Kathmandu.  This is to the north of the area affected by the massive landslide last summer. This is an area that I know well as we have used the resort as a field base for many years. Although there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to the nature of the impact of the earthquake in this area, it is reasonable to assume that the effects have been very severe.

Bhuwan Sharma was at the resort at the time of the earthquake, and has posted a series of videos on his youtube channel.  I thought I’d highlight two of them here.  First, this one shows rockfall activity in the Bhote Kosi gorge during what I assume is an aftershock:


Note the extensive rockfall activity both upstream and downstream of the bridge across the Bhote Kosi.  If you look carefully you can also see the substantial piles of debris in the river channel from the earlier shocks:

Bhote Kosi.

Whilst this video shows the damage in the surrounding villages in the Upper Bhote Kosi valley:



Clearly there is extensive destruction to the houses, some of which have collapsed.  This suggests that the damage in the Upper Bhote Kosi valley is likely to be very serious.  This is important because the reported losses for this earthquake, although terrible, continue to be lower than we would have expected and seem to be at odds with reports from other parts of the mountain area.  Others are equally confused as to what is going on – indeed some models suggest that the losses should be an order of magnitude higher.  It is very perplexing.  Meanwhile, as usual the media seem to be fixated on individual rescues rather than on the big picture.  Each of these “miracle” survival stories are wonderful, but to report them so assiduously is to miss the big picture in my view.