Thursday, 30 April 2015

Landslides kill fourteen in Salvador, Brazil.

Fourteen people have been confirmed dead after two landslides in the city of Salvador in Bahia State, Brazil, on Monday 27 April 2015. The incidents happened in the Barro Branco and Marotinho neighbourhoods, each claiming seven lives. The landslides occurred after over 200 mm of rain fell in the city in 24 hours, over two thirds of the typical rainfall for the entire month of April, and has reportedly caused 147 landslides and several building collapses, as well as widespread flooding, which has led to evacuations in some areas, including the Santo Antonio Hospital. 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. 

Local residents searching for survivors after the 27 April 2015 Salvador landslides. Felipe Oliveira/AFP.

Salvador has a wet tropical climate with high levels of rainfall all year round, though the wettest months are usually April and May with averages of 309.7 mm and 359.9 mm respectively. Landslides are a common event in the cities favelas (poor neighbourhoods) where building standards tend to be lower and population densities higher. The exceptionally high rainfall has continued through the week, with 142 mm of rain falling on 27-28 April, and local authorities are warning of the danger of more events.

The approximate location of the fatal 27 April 2015 Salvador landslides. Google Maps.

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