9 February 2022

Dosquebradas: at least 14 killed in a landslide in Colombia

Posted by Dave Petley

Dosquebradas: at least 16 killed in a landslide in Colombia

Heavy rainfall triggered a large landslide in the town of Dosquebradas in Colombia yesterday, killing at least 16 people, injuring 34 more.  The landslide, which occurred at 6:25 am local time, buried six houses.  El Tiempo has a good report (in Spanish – Google translate does a good job).

The newspaper El Spectador has a good image of the site, which consists of a shallow failure in a steep scarp:-

The 8 February 2022 landslide at Dosquebradas in Colombia, which killed 16 people.

The 8 February 2022 landslide at Dosquebradas in Colombia, which killed 16 people. Image by Santiago Ramirez via El Spectador.


Note the location of a high density, informal settlement at the foot of the slope.  The same area was impacted by another landslide on 5 October 1976, in which 63 people were killed and a further four were left missing.

Colombia has an excellent, very active landslide research and mitigation community, so some excellent information about this failure has been posted to Twitter.  Helbert Schneider, a PhD student at Syracuse University, has tweeted two really interesting insights.  The first provides drone footage of the site:


Whilst the second provides an overview of the landslide risk at the site:


In the same Twitter thread, Helbert makes the following observations:

Note how in the mentioned plan [in his first tweet above], the affected area is not recognized as a susceptible area to landsliding. Although the steep slope is north of the Otún River, on the Dosquebradas municipality side, the runout distance was enough to cross the stream…Most deaths occurred on the Pereira side of the Otún River. The available visual material is clear in that the south margin of the Otún River was heavily damaged and where most fatalities were located….Does this mean that geoscientists and engineers failed to recognize this possible scenario? The historical data shows that this area has been affected by fatal landslides in the past. Therefore, the scenario is not new or unexpected.

So, this is a case of known hazard and established risk, but the mechanisms have not been in place to protect the population.  This is a scenario that we see over and over again across the world, with tragic outcomes.  Colombia has a substantial landslide hazard – I’ve posted previously about research quantifying the level of loss,  which provides a better analysis of an earlier analysis that I posted, whilst Sergio Sepulveda and I published an open access article a few years ago looking at patterns of landslide loss across South America (Sepulveda and Petley 2015)



Sepúlveda, S.A. and Petley, D.N. 2015. Regional trends and controlling factors of fatal landslides in Latin America and the CaribbeanNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences15, 1821-1833, doi:10.5194/nhess-15-1821-2015.