Sunday 19 August 2012

Landslides more deadly than realised

According to a study by Durham University in the UK, landslides kill up to ten times as many people as we thought.    Its authors said the worldwide death toll from 2004 to 2010 was 32,300, compared with earlier estimates of between 3,000 and 7,000.

The main author, David Petley, said most data tended to record only landslides in which ten or more people are killed, when many victims perish in much smaller events. 

The study identified the most vulnerable regions as being countries along the Himalayan Arc - India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh - plus China, and Central and South America.  It suggested that better management of forests and discouraging people from living in vulnerable areas were the best way of reducing the danger.

Perhaps the world’s deadliest landslide was the one that hit coastal areas of Venezuela after torrential rain in the last few days of the twentieth century.   Estimates of the number killed range as high as 30,000.   For the full story see A Disastrous History of the World.

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