21 August 2019
The Kavalappara landslide in the western Ghats of India
At 7:30 pm on 8th August 2019 the large the Kavalappara landslide in Wayanad, part of the western Ghats in Kerala, India buried a small community. Whilst rescue operations continue, it has been reported that 46 bodies have been recovered from the debris, whilst it is believed that a further 13 people were killed. The landslide was triggered by a period of intense monsoon rainfall. The Indian Express has some details about the precipitation event that initiated the landslide:
Malappuram meteorological subdivision got 189.4 mm rain from August 1 to August 7, 66% more than the normal 114.3 mm. On August 8, the Nilambur rain gauge station, the one nearest to Kavalappara, recorded the highest rainfall of that day in Kerala.
Indian Express also has this image of the landslide, which appears to have been both large and mobile:-
Meanwhile, the Deccan Chronicle has a different perspective on the landslide:-
The deep red soils indicate a high degree of weathering. The upper quarter of the landslide source appears to have exposed bedrock, perhaps suggesting that the initial failure occurred on the interface between weathered and intact rock. This portion of the slide surface appears to be much steeper than the rest of the landslide source. The lower three-quarters of the landslide source appear to be situated in weathered soils or regolith. Note that the flow bifurcated into three streams, presumably controlled by the underlying topography. This has left an undisturbed island of trees, which is reminiscent of the Pingdi landslide in China that I highlighted yesterday. The other flow path has cut a separate track.
The heavy rainfall that triggered this landslide caused widespread damage. At Puthumala, also within Wayanad district, 17 people were killed when 53 houses, a mosque, a temple and a shop were buried by another large landslide.