Environment

The Deadliest Landslides Of The 21st Century

Unconstrained development and massive deforestation of land in the 21st century has resulted in a high number of casualties due to landslides.

10. 2013 North India Floods

On June 2013, a series of devastating floods and landslides ravaged parts of the mountainous Indian state of Uttarakhand and nearby areas. More than 5,700 people lost their lives in this disaster. A multi-day cloudburst was the primary reason behind this event. The incessant and heavy rainfall triggered flash floods and mudflows that swept away all that came in the way. Rivers overflowed as the course of rivers were blocked by falling debris. Being a pilgrim and tourist hotspot, over 100,000 of these visitors were stranded during the disaster in the state. Bridge collapses and road blockages in many parts of the affected region made rescue efforts difficult. The army was deployed to rescue people and take them back to safe grounds.

9. 2010 Gansu Mudslide

The second deadliest landslide disaster of the 21st century happened on August 8, 2010, at Zhouqu County in China. The landslide that was triggered by heavy rainfall happened at midnight claiming the lives of many unaware victims. Over 1,471 people were killed and more were injured or missing. The force of the landslide wrecked multi-story buildings to pieces and the debris from the disaster buried homes and people. The debris resulting from the landslide also blocked a small river causing the river to overflow and the water swept through the disaster region in a surge up to 5 stories high. The country mourned the victims on August 15 and flags were lowered to half-mast on this day. Entertainment services on this day, both online and offline, were suspended.

8. 2006 Southern Leyte Mudslide

At least 1,126 people in Southern Leyte, a province of the Philippines, lost their lives in a destructive landslide on February 17, 2006. The landslide was triggered by days of heavy rain and a low-magnitude earthquake. The landslide leveled the village of Guinsaugon in the Saint Bernard township. A local elementary school that was in full session at the time of the disaster was buried in the debris. Most of the schoolchildren and staff also perished.

7. Siaolin Mudslide

A deadly mudslide ravaged the small village of Siaolin in Taiwan’s Jiasian district on August 9, 2009. The mudslide was triggered by heavy rains from the Typhoon Morakot that brought over 60% of the average annual rainfall. The devastating impact of the landslide was further worsened when an artificial dam in the area broke. The Siaolin village was completely razed to the ground and hundreds of villagers were buried alive in the mudslide. Over 600 people lost their lives in the disaster and the economy of the village that was based on tourism and agriculture was also completely damaged.

6. 2014 Badakhshan Mudslides

The Argo District of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province became witness to wanton death and destruction triggered by a pair of mudslides on May 2, 2014. The slides killed over 350 individuals and according to some reports, the death toll crossed 2,500 people. The worse thing was that the second mudslide hampered the efforts of rescuers and even resulted in the deaths of many of the potential rescuers. The mudslides leveled the village and the areas were buried under 33 to 98 ft of mud.

5. Mocoa Landslide

The Putumayo department in Colombia is notorious for its history of devastating landslides. One such landslide claimed the lives of over 300 people on April 1, 2017, in the city of Mocoa. The landslide and flash floods were triggered by heavy rainfall. The disaster also left several missing persons and was recorded as the third deadliest natural disaster in the country’s history.

4. 2015 Guatemala Landslide

On October 1, 2015, heavy rain resulted in a massive landslide in Santa Catarina Pinula in Guatemala. The village of El Cambray Dos was the worst affected. More than 200 people died and several went missing following the disaster. In some places, the landslide debris was as high at 49 feet. The village was nearly completely leveled with homes and villagers being buried under the debris. Prior to the disaster, the locals of the area had been issued several warnings to clear the area and re-locate as it was a landslide-prone zone. If the public had heeded the warnings such a large-scale disaster could have been avoided.

3. 2014 Sunkoshi Blockage

A river was blocked resulting in the formation of a lake when a huge landslide occurred on August 2, 2014, at Nepal’s Sunkoshi river in the Sindhupalchok District. The landslide resulted in massive flooding of the adjacent areas. Many homes were drowned and about 156 human lives were lost in the disaster. The Nepali army was immediately set on the task to remove the blockage on the river to allow the lake’s water to drain. It took 45 days of painstaking work and the use of dynamites to create a canal through the blockage.

2. 2017 Bangladesh Landslides

A series of landslides in three hilly districts of Bangladesh, Bandarban, Chittagong, and Rangamati, on June 12, 2017, killed more than 152 people. Heavy and incessant rain on the day triggered the landslide. Other long-term factors associated with the disaster include massive deforestation of the hill slopes and settlements of poor villagers on landslide-prone hills due to lack of suitable land for settlement elsewhere.

1. 2014 Malin Landslide

The Malin landslide claimed the lives of over 150 villagers in the Malin village in the Pune district of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The landslide happened in the early morning when many people were fast asleep. A bus driver driving through the area was the first to notify the authorities about the landslide after he noticed the village covered in mud and earth. The landslide also trapped many villagers who were later rescued. Heavy rainfall triggered the landslide but several factors prevalent over the long-term also had a role to play in the disaster. These factors included unplanned development, massive deforestation, construction of dams, and a shift in cultivation practices.

The Deadliest Landslides Of The 21st Century

RankDatePlaceName/articleCasualties
116 Jun 2013Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, India2013 North India floods5,700
28 Aug 2010Gansu, China2010 Gansu mudslide1,287
317 Feb 2006Southern Leyte, Philippines2006 Southern Leyte mudslide1126
49 Aug 2009Siaolin Village, Kaohsiung, TaiwanSiaolin mudslide439–600
52 May 2014Argo District, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan2014 Badakhshan mudslides350–500 reported
62 April 2017Mocoa, Colombia2017 Mocoa landslide314
71 October 2015El Cambray Dos, Guatemala Department, Guatemala2015 Guatemala landslide220
82 Aug 2014Sunkoshi, Sindhupalchok District, Nepal2014 Sunkoshi blockage156+
912 June 2017Rangamati, Chittagong and Bandarban, Bangladesh2017 Bangladesh landslides152
1030 Jul 2014Malin, Ambegaon taluka, Pune district, Maharashtra, India2014 Malin landslide136
1111 Jun 2007Chittagong, Bangladesh2007 Chittagong mudslides123
126 Sep 2008Cairo, Egypt2008 Cairo landslide119
131 Mar 2010Bududa District, Uganda2010 Ugandan landslide100–300
1429 Oct 2014Badulla District, Sri Lanka2014 Badulla landslide100+
1518 May 2015Salgar, Antioquia Department Colombia2015 Colombian landslide78
1623 Apr 2015Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan2015 Badakhshan landslides52
1720 Aug 2014Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan2014 Hiroshima landslides50+
1822 Mar 2014Oso, Washington, United States2014 Oso mudslide43
1920 Feb 2010Madeira Island, Portugal2010 Madeira floods and mudslides42
209 Nov 2001Amboori, Kerala, India40

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