Wednesday 16 October 2019

Landslide kills at least 23 in southern Ethiopia.

At least twenty three people have died in a landslide in southern Ethiopia on Sunday 13 October 2019. The dead are reported to include at least thirteen women and nine children. The incident happened in the Konta District of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, following about ten hours of continuous rain in the area. 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. The incident is reported to have happened late in the evening, and to have swept away at least five homes in which people were sleeping.

The aftermath of a landslide in the Konta District of southern Ethiopia, in which at least 23 people were killed on 13 October 2019. Mowliid Haji Abdi/Twitter.

This is the latest in a series of landslide and flood events that have hit Ethiopia and neighbouring countries this year. The landslides have been caused exceptional rainfall in the mountains of Ethiopia this year, which has in turn been caused by high temperatures over the Gulf of Oman, leading to higher levels of evaporation there. High levels of evaporation in the Gulf of Oman leads to more rainfall in Ethiopia, and higher waters on the River Nile, and recent years have seen a series of exceptionally hot summers in the region, with consequent increases in flooding and water born disease along the course of the Nile. The rainy season in Ethiopia typically lasts until the middle of September, but this year the rains have continued and show no signs of abating, raising concerns that further similar events may occur.

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