2 January 2019
Sukabumi: an end of year landslide in Indonesia has killed up to 35 people
Sukabumi: Indonesia’s dreadful year of landslide disasters has finished with yet another event. The village of Cimapag in Sukabumi, West Java was struck by a landslide, triggered by heavy rainfall, at 5:30 pm local time on 31st December 2018. Latest reports suggest that 15 bodies have been recovered, with another 20 people reported to be missing.
The best image that I have found of the landslide is on the Sukabumi Update website, which of course is in Indonesian. This has the image below, which provides a panoramic overview of the slide:
The image was collected by members of the Sukabumi Drone Community. Care is needed as many news reports seem to be illustrated with images of previous landslide events in Indonesia. This landslide appears to be a comparatively deep-seated failure in highly weathered soils, which are normal in Indonesia, and in a steeper section of slope. The landslide appears to have been highly mobile on the lower angled slopes. I wonder if this might be the result of saturated paddy fields, which would provide a saturated, low friction environment. Sukambumi Update also has the image below, a zoom in of the above, providing better detail of the runout zone:-
West Java is a global landslide hotspot. This map shows the location of landslides that have killed people in West Java in the period 2004 to 2016, using the tool developed by Melanie Froude (see our paper from last year for further details). The combination of volcanic soils subjected to deep weathering, intense rainfall events, extensive deforestation and, of course, a vulnerable population has led to a high level of risk from landslides. The similarity of this landslide to the Dewata tea plantation landslide in West Java in 2010, which killed about 70 people, is notable.