Wednesday 26 June 2013

Man killed in Kerala Landslide.

A man was killed when a landslide struck a the Rocha Hotel in the resort town of Munnar in the Idukki District of Kerala State, India at around 3.30 am on Tuesday 25 June local time (10.00 pm on Monday 24 June, GMT). He has been named as Zakariahkutty, a chef in his 40s from Kottayam. Munar has been badly affected by severe rainfall associated with the onset of the Indian Monsoon, with flooding closing several streets, several properties being evacuated due to rising water levels and a bridge in the old part of the town being washed away.

Damage to the Rocha Hotel in Munnar, Kerala State. The Hindu.

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.

Munnar is located at the confluence of the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers, in the Western Ghats, at an altitude of 1700 m. It receives high levels of rainfall during the rainy season, feeding the local tea-growing industry, while the high altitude keeps the area cool during the warmest part of the year, making it a popular tourist spot. However the combination of mountainous terrain and high rainfall is extremely conducive to landslides, and casualties happen there almost every year. In 2008 the  Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks and Applications installed a system of geophysical sensors around the town, which aim to give up to 24 hours notice of landslide events, since when the number of fatalities has fallen, though not been halted altogether.

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