10 October 2022
The 8-9 October 2022 disaster at Las Tejerías in Venezuela
Over the night of 8-9 October 2022 a rainfall-induced disaster struck the town of Las Tejerías in Venezuela. 2001 Live is reporting about 30 known fatalities, with 54 people missing, some of whom are young children. The disaster is being widely described as a landslide – for example BBC News is reporting that:-
“Deadly landslides have swept away homes in Venezuela’s Las Tejerías city, south of the capital Caracas.”
There are some images of the aftermath of the disaster, including this image from ACN:-
The images appear to show large amounts of mud and debris in the town, including a considerable volume of wood. The debris seems to be predominantly fine-grained.
There are also a small number of videos online, captured during the event, which mostly seem to show fast moving, sediment-rich flows. This is an example:-
This is a overview of the site from Google Earth:-
The location is 10.252, -67.166. It is quite unclear at the moment as to the sequence of events at Las Tejerías. Particularly pertinent here might be the large channel that flows southwards through the town to join the main channel, draining the hills to the north. There is dense settlement along this channel. There are also several other, smaller, channels draining minor catchments, also with dense settlement patterns:-
A reasonable first order hypothesis for this disaster may be that it was caused by mudflows travelling down one or more of these channels, triggered by heavy rainfall in the hills to the north. These events could have resulted simply from the heavy rainfall, from multiple landslides in the catchment that have transformed into channelised mudflows, or from a valley-blocking landslide in one or more channels, that breached to create a large flow. At the moment this is purely speculation.
At the time of writing the focus is on the recovery operation, but hopefully in due course satellite imagery will become available that will allow a more detailed analysis of the causes of the disaster at Las Tejerías.