Sunday 17 November 2013

Landslide kills four people at Paris Beach, north Sumatra.

Four people were killed in a landslide at Paris Beach on the shores of Lake Toba, near Nagori Tiga Ras in north Sumatra, at about 11.00 pm local time (about 4.00 pm GMT) on Saturday 9 November 2013. A retaining wall was present at the beach, which was intended to prevent such incidents, but this was apparently overwhelmed by the size of the incident. The landslide buried a number of beach huts on the foreshore, claiming the lives of Romauli Manik (40) and his wife Fiencensius Saragih (also 40) who ran a small shop from one of the huts and tourists Edi Simarmata (28) and Lisna Uli Damanik (24), who were staying in another hut.

The approximate location of the 9 November 2013 Paris Beach landslide. Google Maps.

The incident happened following several hours of heavy rain. Landslides are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall. November is peak Rainy Season in North Sumatra, and this year the rains have been exceptionally strong, due to high temperatures over the Indian Ocean, which has led to a series of flooding events and landslips.

Lake Toba was formed by a major eruption around 73 880 years ago, which totally destroyed  a large volcano occupying the site of the current Lake Toba. This is thought to have been the largest volcanoc eruption of the Quaternary Period, covering much of south Asia in around 15 cm of ash, and probably causing atmospheric effects that resulted in a six year global winter and a worldwide downturn in temperatures that lasted about a thousand years. 

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