18 May 2016

Fatal landslides in 2016 so far

Posted by Dave Petley

Fatal landslides in 2016 so far

As the rainy season starts to loom in the global landslide hotspots of South and South-East Asia, this is a good time to review the global pattern of fatal landslides in 2016 to date.  This is data that I have been collecting since 2002 – I wrote it up in a paper (Petley 2016) a few years ago – see the blog posts of the time – and Melanie and I are currently working on an update (watch this space).

So, lets take a look at fatal landslides in 2016 so far.  As of yesterday I had recorded 111 landslides that caused loss of life, not including those triggered by earthquakes (does anyone have a full list of fatal landslides from the Japan earthquake last month?).  These landslides killed a total of 620 people.  This is how the cumulative landslide graph looks, correct to 15th May 2016:

Landslide fatalities in 2016

Cumulative graph of landslide fatalities in 2016


This shows a quite normal pattern, with a comparatively slow but steady start to the year, accelerating as time proceeds.  As we now come into the northern hemisphere rainy season, the event rate is increasing.  This is more dramatic in late June.

This is the same data plotted together with 2015:

llandslide fatalities in 2016

Cumulative graph of landslide fatalities in 2016 together with data from 2015


In spite of the El Nino event, which is commonly thought to increase landslide occurrence, 2016 looks to be very similar to 2015 in most respects.  The number of landslides is a little higher, but not significantly so.  However,  most of the global losses for 2016 have yet to occur.  This is the full dataset for 2015 and 2016 to date:

Fatal landslides in 2016

Cumulative graph of fatal landslides in 2016 together with the full dataset for 2015


The 2015 landslide season in South and East Asia was not strong, which dominates the global pattern.  Forecasts for the monsoon suggest that this year might be somewhat worse.

For the first time I have decided to publish the underlying data online (this should open as an Excel spreadsheet).  I have started with my data for 2016 so far.  You can use this for your own purposes, although I would be grateful if you would:

  1. Acknowledge the source of the data;
  2. Cite the paper that describes the dataset – Petley (2012) – see full reference below.  This work is described in a blog post from 2012.
  3. Let me know how you have used it by emailing me directly.

I’d also be glad to know of any errors and omissions.  I should note that this data is preliminary at this point – I haven’t done the detailed checking as yet – and I haven’t yet undertaken the geolocation work to allow the landslides to be mapped.


Petley, D.N. 2012. Global patterns of loss of life from landslides. Geology 40 (10), 927-930.