23 July 2015
Ambunti, Papua New Guinea
Via Twitter, Dr Phil Collins of Brunel University (@PhilCollins_UK) highlighted an interesting story on an Australian news website about a “sinkhole” that developed on Saturday on the banks of the Sepik River in Ambunti, Papua New Guinea. The original news report has some images:
Pacific Islands Report has a longer description of the landslide:
According to witnesses Jamie Asa and Frank Warakai, the sinkhole formed about midday last Saturday at the Forex Camp and Saksak Compound, along the Sepik River. “Sixteen houses went down as the earth opened up unexpectedly.
“The settlers panicked and scrambled out of their houses within minutes as the earth shook,” a shocked Warakai said, adding that his house was the first one to be sucked in by the sinkhole.
He said he was woken from his sleep by the movement of the earth and jumped out of his house. As he ran for safety, the earth gave way within seconds, causing a large stretch of land to immediately sink in, creating huge cracks that destroyed houses. Mr Asa said the people in the settlements also panicked and many managed to escape to higher grounds. He said the displaced people are seeking shelter in makeshift houses and at nearby villages.
Whilst this is being reported as a sinkhole, I am certain that this is a riverbank landslide. Unfortunately the Google Earth imagery for this location does not have a high resolution, but Ambunti appears to be on the outside of a sharp river bend, and there is a feature sticking into the river on the apex of the bend that looks suspiciously like an old landslide, but that is pure speculation at this stage: