Five people have been confirmed dead and another fifteen are missing following a landslide that hit the town of Santa Lucia in central Santiago Province, Chile, on Saturday 16 December 2017. The deceased have not been named, but have been identified as a 68-year-old-woman, a 35-year-old man, a foreign tourist and two other people. The incident happened at about 9.20 am local time, after over 11 cm of rain fell within 24 hours, liquefying soil on the hillside above the town, and resulting in a massive mudflow that swept through the town, destroying about a third of the buildings, and triggering a fire that destroyed several more.
The town of Santa Lucia in Santiago Province, after being hit by a landslide on 16 December 2017. HO/AFP/Getty Images.
Landslides are 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. December is usually a very dry month in Santiago Province, which usually receives less than 2.5 mm of rain in the entire month, making this weeks event truly exceptional.
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