29 October 2020

Typhoon Molave: two major landslides in Vietnam

Posted by Dave Petley

Typhoon Molave: two major landslides in Vietnam

Over the last month I have written on a number of occasions about landslides triggered by storm rainfall in Vietnam, causing substantial loss of life.  Overnight, the latest storm, Typhoon Molave, made landfall in Vietnam, bringing strong winds and intense rainfall.  This will have fallen on ground that was already wet, and in some cases deformed, increasing the risk of failures.

This morning, the Vietnamese media is reporting that two major landslides have been triggered by Typhoon Molave.  The first is at Tra Leng Commune in Nam Tra My District.  Initial reports indicate that this landslide may have left as many as 45 people missing, a district official said Wednesday night.  The latest reports suggest that eight bodies have been recovered to date, although the rescue efforts are being hampered by landslides on the roads to the site.

The image below shows the location of Tra Leng Commune, as indicated by both Google Earth and Wikimapia.  The coordinates are on the image if you want to take a look.  I cannot pin down the precise location of the landslide itself at this point, but it appears to have occurred in a remote upland area:-

Typhoon Molave

Google Earth image of the probable vicinity of the Tra Leng Commune landslide triggered by Typhoon Molave in Vietnam.


The other fatal landslide triggered by Typhoon Molave occurred at Tra Van Commune, also in Nam Tra My District. At this location seven bodies have been recovered to date, with a further person reported to be missing.

Some reports indicate that Typhoon Molave may have been the strongest storm to hit Vietnam in two decades, bringing 500 mm of rainfall in a single day in some locations.  Heavy flooding is likely to become a major issue in the coming hours, potentially affecting millions of people.