Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Deadly Geography of Landslides

Between 2004 and 2010, 2,620 landslides killed a total of 32,322 people worldwide. Rain-driven landslides have killed at least 20,000 since 2007.

As might be expected, the most susceptible parts of the planet for landslides are regions of high altitude, including the Alps, the Andes, and the Himalayas.

The extreme inequality of landslides

The lack of quality infrastructure and the impact of mass deforestation in Africa is also especially noticeable, given that the continent saw seven per cent of recorded landslide-related deaths occur during this time period.

Human Activity

A new study by researchers at UK's Sheffield University revealed for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased over time. 

"We were aware that humans are placing increasing pressure on their local environment, but it was surprising to find clear trends within the database that fatal landslides triggered by construction, illegal hillcutting and illegal mining were increasing globally during the period of 2004 and 2016," says Melanie Froude, a postdoctoral researcher at Sheffield's Department of Geography and lead author of the study.

While the trend is global, Asia is the most affected continent: "All countries in the top 10 for fatal landslide triggered by human activity are located in Asia," says Froude. The number 1 country is India, which accounts for 20% of these events. It is also the country where human-triggered fatal landslides are increasing at the highest rate, followed by Pakistan, Myanmar and the Philippines.

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