3 July 2018
Shimian County: a freak rockfall accident in China
The Chengdu Business Daily has a report (in Chinese) of a freak rockfall accident that occurred in Shimian County in Sichuan Province, China on 30th June. At the time a coach was driving on the S217 Provincial Road between Chengdu and Wuhu, carrying 38 people. The coach was struck by a large boulder. The image below, from the same source, shows the aftermath of the accident:-
It appears that the boulder penetrated, and became wedged through, the windscreen of the coach. The driver, Zhao Jianguo, a 44 year old native of Chengdu, was pinned in his seat and was killed. A further six people were injured. Despite his fatal injuries the driver managed to steer the coach to a safe stop, saving the lives of the remaining passengers. The coach left a ten metre long skid mark in the road prior to hitting the guard rail, which is being interpreted as an indication that the driver was applying the brakes prior to the impact with the crash barrier on the side of the road, despite his very serious injuries.
Rockfalls on highways in China are not unusual, and impacts between rocks and vehicles are common in mountain chains around the world. I have not seen an example in which a boulder that must weigh several tonnes penetrates a vehicle in this way however. It is a truly freak accident.
We are now well into the monsoon season across Asia, and reports of landslides are coming thick and fast, as expected. Spectacular debris flow videos are emerging from the heavy rains in Vietnam for example, including this remarkable example (which occurs in two phases):-
And this one on Liveleak, which I cannot embed (but is worth a look).