20 June 2023
The 30 June 2022 Tupul, Manipur landslide in India
On 20 June 2022, a large landslide occurred at Makhuam village, which is located in the Tupul District of Manipur in NE India [approximate location is [24.8389, 93.6276]. The landslide killed 61 people, the majority of whom were staff from the adjacent railway construction site and local people. A further 18 people were injured.
At the time of the landslide I posted an initial interpretation of the events, speculating on the basis of the landslide deposit and scar that there were two distinct phases of movement, and that failure was associated with the construction of the railway through the area.
A paper has now been published in the journal Landslides (Baruah et al. 2023) that provides an initial interpretation of this appalling landslide. This provides a proper analysis of the events. The image below, from the paper, provides an annotated interpretation of the landslide:-
Baruah et al. (2023) confirm that the landslide occurred in two distinct phases, the first at 12:30 am local time, and the second at 6 am. Given that many of the victims were located in a dormitory that was destroyed by the landslide, the timing of the first (larger) phase is particularly important (and unfortunate). The authors note that “a preliminary assessment by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) highlighted extensive slope cutting for the construction of the railway station” was the primary cause of the landslide. The authors also note that May and June 2022 were unusually wet, recording a total of 705.5 mm of rainfall, which is 130% higher than the mean total for these two months over the previous decade.
Thus it seems that this landslide was the classic combination of poorly designed or implemented slope excavation coupled with heavy rainfall. It once again serves to highlight the many issues at present in the development of transportation corridors in in the Himalayas in India.
Baruah, S., Dey, C. & Sanoujam, M. Preliminary account on the 30th June 2022 Tupul, Manipur landslide of Northeast India. Landslides (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-023-02074-y