Friday 17 January 2014

At least 16 dead after landslides at Tomohon in North Sulawesi.

It is feared that at least 16 people have died after a pair of landslides hit the Tomohon-Manado road close to Tomohon in North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia on Wednesday 15 January 2013. One of these is understood to have hit a house where at least a dozen people were sheltering from the rain, sweeping it down a 50 m ravine. So far one person has been pulled from the debris alive and two bodies have been recovered. The second landslide is understood to have hit traffic on the road, sweeping several cars and motorbikes into a ravine.

Rescue workers searching for survivors after a landslide on the Tomohon-Manado Road. Fiqman Sunandar/Antara News.

The incidents followed 11 hours of continuous heavy rain. 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. December and January represent peak rainy season on Sulawesi, and landslides and flooding are common at this time of year. This has been made worse by a tropical depression that moved over the island this week, having caused problems on Mindanao in the Philippines the week before. Over 40 000 people have had to leave their homes on Sulawesi, with floodwaters reaching 2.5 m in places.

Rescue workers evacuating people from flood hit areas of Mandano. Yudi Makka/AFP/Getty Images.

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