2 June 2021
The 1918 Getå landslide disaster in Sweden
A recent post on Reddit has highlighted a landslide disaster that occurred close to the village of Getå in Sweden on 1 October 1918. The event is also well-described in a Wikipedia page.
Early in that evening a landslide removed a section of a railway track. A few minutes later a train, consisting of a locomotive and ten carriages, reached the landslide and derailed spectacularly. The post on Reddit has a fascinating aerial image of the aftermath of the landslide:
The landslide scar and its very large deposit are clearly visible. Interestingly, the crown of the landslide seems to almost perfectly coincide with the upslope boundary of the railway line. The crashed locomotive is visible in the scar, as is one of the carriages. There us a huge pile of debris, which is the aftermath of the fire that destroyed most of the carriages. Other carriages remained upright on the tracks.
At least 42 people were killed in the accident, the majority of whom are thought to have been trapped in the derailed carriages when the fire engulfed them. A further 41 people were injured. There are thought to be at least five people who remained missing after the accident.
The image below shows the landslide deposit:-
A detailed investigation of the landslide was undertaken. It concluded that there was a prehistoric landslide at the site that had not been identified at the time of the construction of the railway, five years earlier. Failure was triggered by high pore water pressures. The railway line was located on a gravel embankment; sliding initiated on the interface between the embankment gravel and the underlying clay.
The railway line was rebuilt and remains in use today; the accident spurred the development of the field of geotechnics in Sweden.