20 December 2018

Surabaya, Indonesia: an impressive retaining wall failure

Posted by Dave Petley

Surabaya, Indonesia: an impressive retaining wall failure

On Tuesday night (18th December 2018) a spectacular retaining wall failure occurred in Surabaya in East Java, Indonesia.  This landslide destroyed a 30 metre long section of the four lane Jl. Raya Gubeng, causing considerable traffic delays in the area.  Images of the aftermath of the event suggest that it was a very substantial failure:-


TRhe aftermath of the large retaining wall failure in Surabaya, Indonesia on Tuesday. Image via Tempo.


An article in the Malaysian Star has various statements confirming that it was a retaining wall failure:-

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the sinkhole was caused by a construction error.

“The retaining wall was not able to withstand the load, especially during the rainy season,” he said in a statement, adding that there was no connection between this incident and two active earthquake faults in Surabaya and Waru.

Surabaya Deputy Mayor Wisnu Sakti Buana said the sinkhole was allegedly related to the construction of a parking basement at Siloam Hospital.

“This is related to the project on the side of the road. The Siloam Hospital project. They were supposed to build a foundation first, but they didn’t,” Wisnu said as quoted in an interview with KompasTV.

Surabaya Development Planning Agency head Eri Cahyadi concurred, saying the incident was purely caused by an error in the project.

Meanwhile, Sutupo Purwo Nugroho also tweeted this image of the site, apparently showing the wall prior to failure:-


The retaining wall that failed at Surabaya, East Java in Indonesia on Tuesday night. Image Tweeted by Sutupo Purwo Nugroho.


Fortunately reports suggest that there were no casualties in this failure.  Videos of previous events have shown how dangerous they can be.


Many thanks to Robert Kwok for highlighting this very interesting event to me.