Thursday 21 November 2013

Woman killed in Kenya landslide.

A woman has been killed and several families have been displaced after a landslide swept through Mugomet Village in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya, on Wednesday 20 November 2013. She as been named Mary Kigen (50), who was swept away when the house was was partially destroyed by the incident. A number other people in the house, including several children, were unharmed, as were the occupants of two other houses which were completely destroyed by the landslip. A grain store was also destroyed, as were sections of several roads. In addition to the people who lost their homes, several neighbouring families were evacuated to safer ground as a precaution.

The approximate location of the 20 November 2013 Mugomet landslide. Google Maps.

The incident occurred after about a month of heavy rains, in one of the area's two annual rainy seasons. 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. This two rainy seasons per year pattern is typical in equatorial countries, with rainy seasons around the equinoxes and dry seasons around the solstices. Upland areas of Kenya have always been prone to landslides, but the problem has become worse in recent years as a rising population has led to more agriculture on hillslopes, in many areas replacing open woodland where tree roots served to stabilize slopes, and also to more people living in harms ways. Villagers in Mugomet had been petitioning the government to be relocated to a safer area for some time prior to this latest incident.

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