Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nepal landslide deaths highlight disaster risk reduction gaps

IRIN: A landslide in Nepal on 2 August killed 33 and 122 are still missing as search and rescue continues. Experts say this event, one of the deadliest in the country’s recent history, is a wake-up call for hazard mapping, early warning, and disaster management. “The scale of human casualties in terms of fatal incidents is enormous and this is appalling,” Nepal Red Cross Society’s (NRCS) disaster risk reduction coordinator Krishna KC told IRIN.

During the early morning of 2 August, a 1.9km long slope of land perched 1,350 metres above the Sun Koshi river collapsed, according to an evaluation report by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Seven hundred and fifty personnel from the Nepal Army and Armed Police Force (a paramilitary unit) are continuing search and rescue efforts in the area, around 200km northeast Kathmandu.

...According to NRCS, the disaster caused one of the highest death tolls due to a landslide in a single village in Nepal’s history since records began in the 1950s. In the past decade landslides killed over 1,300 people and destroyed 10,000 houses, according to NRCS.

Government officials and scientists from ICIMOD and UN agencies have travelled to the affected area to support the ongoing response efforts and research how prevention and preparedness can be improved in what the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center calls one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

While search and rescue continues in the Himalayan foothills, experts are concerned about potential flood risk downstream. According to the government’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), debris created a dam across the Sun Koshi river within 13 hours of the landslide starting. Seven million cubic metres of water now extend around 3km upstream, creating a large lake. The latest report by NRCS predicts that the breach of the land mass could create substantial flood risk for 11 downstream Nepali districts....

A river in the Himalayas (okay, it's Tibet, not Nepal). Shot by Mayank Bhagya, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: