Saturday, 16 June 2018

Eight dead and five missing following landslide in Kozhikode District, Kerala.

Eight people, including four children, have been confirmed dead and another five are still missing, following a landslide which hit the village of Kattipara in Kozhikode District, Kerala, on Thursday 14 Jube 2018. The deceased have been named as Dilna, 13, Muhammad Shahabad, 7, Abdur Rahman, 60, Jannat, 25, Muhammad Jaseem, 5, Hassan, 67 and Jaffar, 45 and Rippa Mariam, 1½. The landslide is thought to have been caused by heavy rains associated with the Southwest Monsoon, which arrived in Kerala about six weeks ago, and brings the number of deaths attributed to flooding and landslides associated with the monsoon in the state this year to 43.

Rescue workers looking for survivors following a landslide that hit the village of Kattipara in Kozhikode District, Kerala, on 14 June 2018. Press Trust of India.

Monsoons are tropical sea breezes triggered by heating of the land during the warmer part of the year (summer). Both the land and sea are warmed by the Sun, but the land has a lower ability to absorb heat, radiating it back so that the air above landmasses becomes significantly warmer than that over the sea, causing the air above the land to rise and drawing in water from over the sea; since this has also been warmed it carries a high evaporated water content, and brings with it heavy rainfall. In the tropical dry season the situation is reversed, as the air over the land cools more rapidly with the seasons, leading to warmer air over the sea, and thus breezes moving from the shore to the sea (where air is rising more rapidly) and a drying of the climate.

 Diagrammatic representation of wind and rainfall patterns in a tropical monsoon climate. Geosciences/University of Arizona.

Kerala has a complex seasonal cycle, driven by the presence of the Western Ghats mountain range, which largely block the dry northerly winds which dominate the climate of much of India, and its proximity to the equator, which leads to a double monsoon system. Such a double Monsoon Season is common close to the equator, where the Sun is highest overhead around the equinoxes and lowest on the horizons around the solstices, making the solstices the coolest part of the year and the equinoxes the hottest. In Kerala this results in a Southwest Monsoon, which lasts from May to September, and is driven by winds from the southern Arabian Sea dumping water onto the Western Ghats, followed by a Northwest Monsoon, which lasts from October to December, where winds from the Bay of Bengal do the same. Of the two monsoons, the southwest is the wetter, due to the proximity of the sea, with June typically being the wettest month, with an average of 341 mm of rain falling in the month.

Flooding below the village of Kattipara in the Thamarassery Churam mountain passage in Kerala State, India. ANI.

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