23 April 2016

Liuliao Village, China: a rockfall strikes a crowded school

Posted by Dave Petley

Liuliao Village, China: a rockfall strikes a crowded school

Xinhua yesterday carried a story about a rockfall in Liuliao village, Rong’an County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China that struck a primary school on Thursday.  At the time the school contained 149 pupils and 12 teachers, of whom 23 people were injured, seven of them seriously.  This image from Xinhua gives an overview of the rockfall, which was triggered by heavy rainfall:

Liulioa rockfall

The rockfall at Liuliao in China on 21st April, via Xinhua


The landslide, which is clearly in limestone, has a volume of 1,600 cubic metres.  The source area appears to be heavily weathered, suggesting failure in an existing joint.  it is fortunate that part of the debris flowed to one side of the school.

The Daily Mail has a good image of the rockfall from the other side.  The boulders are notably large, although again that so many missed the school is fortunate:

Liuliao rockfall

The Liuliao rockfall on 21st April 2016 in Southern China, via the Daily Mail


The structure appears to have withstood the impacts quite well.  The location of the school is the one shown below, via Google Earth:

Luiliao rockfall

The location of the Luiliao rockfall, via Google Earth


The proximity of the school to the slope is of course questionable, although the dense forest might have led to the conclusion that rockfall activity was rare.  It is also notable that in this area most of the older settlements are built close to the valley edges – this may be to preserve agricultural land and to avoid flooding, perhaps.

This rockfall was triggered by a long period of heavy rainfall in southern China.  There are further warnings of heavy rainfall today, and it is forecast that there will be further heavy rainfall to the end of the month.  There are associated warnings of rockfalls and landslides.  A landslide late on Friday has probably killed six people at Guoli Village, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province.