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Hong Kong landslide risk cannot be eliminated

Landslide risk in manmade slopes in Hong Kong has been cut by 75% in the last 40 years but cannot be eliminated, particularly given the impact of climate change, according to a government official.

Speaking at Slope Safety Summit 2017, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region chief executive Carrie Lam marked the 40th anniversary of the Hong Kong slope safety system and the establishment of the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO).

A number of landslide death, culminating in the Sau Mau Ping disaster of 1976, led to the establishment of the safety system and the new department.

“I wish to commend the Civil Engineering and Development Department for its initiative in hosting this summit together with the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers for us to reflect on our past successes and to prepare for the future,” she said.

“Evolving in response to experience, continual improvement initiatives and technological advancement, we now have in place one of the best slope engineering and landslide risk-management systems in the world.

“But landslide risks will never drop to zero given that the majority of Hong Kong’s land area is hilly terrain. Today, we must also contend with the acute challenges of population growth, slope degradation and, most notably, climate change. Climate change is already affecting us.

“And there is the very real likelihood that climate change will result in more frequent, more extreme rainfall, triggering deadly landslides from our mountainous landscape.”

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