24 March 2020
Tendepo: a major landslide in Tambul-Nebilyer district in Papua New Guinea
On Saturday 21 March 2020 a major landslide occurred at Tendepo in Tambul-Nebilyer district in Papua New Guinea, resulting in 12 fatalities. There is an accessible and useful account of this event on The Watchers website, which notes that the landslide was triggered by ongoing heavy rainfall, with further events considered to be possible in the coming days.
That article includes this image of the landslide:-
Based upon this image this appears to be reasonably deep-seated, possibly rotational slip in deeply weathered residual soil on a slope that has been deforested. The displaced block appears to have disintegrated to generate a major, probably rapid, earthflow. The mobility of the landslide appears to have been quite high.
This image, from the same article, provides an alternative view of the scar of the landslide:-
The National (a Papua New Guinea newspaper) has an account of the landslide:-
The landslide, which began around 1 am, also washed away 13 homes, domestic animals and food gardens … “People who were awake at that time heard a big noise and found out it was a landslide,” Yanga said. He said it was the first time for him to witness a landslide destroying lives and properties. “We are shocked at the moment because this is the first time to witness people die like that in our Tendepo tribe,” Yanga said.
Papua New Guinea is no stranger to major landslides – for example, a few years ago I covered in detail the outrageous 2012 Tumbi Quarry landslide, which killed at least 25 people, and more recently the 25 February 2018 Mw=7.5 earthquake triggered many landslides, causing an unknown number of fatalities.