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Rise in fatal landslides reported for 2017

The number of landslide worldwide that caused loss of life rose last year to 453 with the loss of 4,164 lives, according to a report on the Landslide Blog.

landslide fatalities

landslide fatalities

The rise follows on from an increase in fatal landslide reported in 2016 after a five year trend of declining numbers reported by landslide specialist and Sheffield University pro-vice-chancellor (research and innovation) David Petley.

Petley started compiling the database in 2003 and excludes seismically induced landslide.

“Last year was the third worst year in this 15-year dataset, and 2016 and 2017 have reversed the slight downward trend seen in the period from 2010 to 2015,” he said. “The data continue to show a statistically-significant upward trend over the full period of the study, but no significant trend since about 2009.

“I remain unclear as to whether this is because I became better at capturing the data, or whether there is a genuine increasing trend. The dataset needs to be much longer to be able to deduce a meaningful trend that exclude the possible effects of improvement in methodology.

“It is likely though that the number of events is not decreasing, despite our increasing knowledge of landslides and their mitigation. This is quite depressing.”


Significant events

Petley has said that a small number of larger event significantly affect the total number of deaths and identifies the key events in 2017 as:

  • Regent landslide in Sierra Leone on 14 August, which killed 1,309
  • Mocoa landslide in Columbia on 1 April, which killed 406
  • Ituri landslide in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 16 August, which killed 240
  • Koshe landslide in Ethiopia on 11 March, which killed 125
  • Xinmo landslide in Sichuan, China on 14 June, which killed 83

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