This blog provides a commentary on landslide events occurring worldwide, including the landslides themselves, latest research, and conferences and meetings. The blog is written on a personal basis by Dave Petley, who is the Wilson Professor of Hazard and Risk in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the United Kingdom.

This blog is a personal project that does not seek to represent Durham University.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Landslides and buses

A nasty landslide this week in Peru triggered some thoughts about the occurrence of landslides that kill the passngers on buses. The event that triggered these thoughts occurred on 6th February when heavy rain dislodged a boulder hit a bus and knocked it into the Tarma River in Junin Province in Peru. Seven people were killed and a further 23 were injured.

TV3 news in New Zealand had this picture of the remains of the vehicle:

Such events appear on the database quite often, so I thought it might be interesting just to look at the 2007 data to see where and when they occur. These are the bus-related landslides within the Durham database:

Date

Country

Location

Fatalities

Injuries

24/02/2007

Pakistan

Sanadhi (Paniola) village, 15 kilometres away of Rawalakot, Kashmir

15

5

12/03/2007

India

Nauliband area of the Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand

18

32

02/04/2007

China

Pengshui, Chongqing Municipality

7

1

25/05/2007

China

Shimian to Hanyuan county in the central western city of Ya'an, Sichuan

10

14

04/07/2007

Mexico

Eloxochitlan, Puebla

32


20/08/2007

Nepal

Palpa-Tamghas road, Palpa

25


02/09/2007

India

Ghansali town in Tehri district, Uttarakhand

19

20

17/09/2007

India

Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand

19

28

11/10/2007

India

Vishnuprayag, Chamoli district of Uttarakhand

41


20/11/2007

China

Badong county, Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in southwest Hubei

35

1



Totals

221

101


It is clear that there is a particular problem with landslides affecting buses in mountain areas, particularly in Asia. Over 200 deaths is a very high impact indeed. The impacts occur in one of three main ways:
1. Buses being hit by landslides or by rockfalls and knocked into a river (as in the case of Peru this week)
2. Buses being buried by landslide debris (this happened in the Pakistan example)
3. Buses being affected by a human induced failure. The Badong event in China was the result of a rockfall triggered by tunnel construction.

There are occasional other factors too - in one case the accident occurred because the driver was speeding to attempt to avoid a rockfall. I suspect that no-one has ever undertaken a systematic study of bus-related landslide fatalities. This is probably an important topic.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

January 2007 final map

Below is the fatal landslide distribution map for January 2008. I have coded the rainfall induced landslides as black dots and those caused by other causes as red dots.

The January 2008 fatal landslide distribution map. Rainfall-induced landslides are the black dots, those caused by other processes (mostly quarrying and construction) are in red. Click on the map for a larger version.

A few observations on the data:
  • I recorded 20 fatal landslides in the month with a total of 106 fatalities
  • Of these, only six were triggered by rainfall, accounting for 56 deaths.
  • There is a notable cluster of landslides in northern India. However, most of these were triggered construction or quarrying, so it probably represents just a coincidence.
  • Overall, the total is below the long term average for the number of fatalities occurring in January.
I welcome any thoughts, observations or comments.