Friday 9 February 2024

Eleven confirmed deaths following landslide in Davao de Oro Province, the Philippines.

At least eleven people have died following a landslide in Davao de Oro Province on Mindanao Island in the Philippines on Tuesday 6 February 2024. The landslide hit the remote mining village of Masara early in the evening, with many of the victims being miners waiting on two busses to be taken home at the end of their shift. One hundred and ten people are still missing following the landslide, with 31 being treated for injuries. Around 1166 households in the area have been evacuated as a precaution, due to fears of further land slippage.

One of two busses hit by a landslide in Davao de Oro Province, the Philippines, on 6 February 2024. The Manila Times.

The landslide occurred following weeks of heavy rain in the region, associated with the Northern Monsoon. 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. In many parts of the Philippines this situation has been made worse by widespread deforestation, for agriculture, urban development, and mining, which removes the tree root systems which otherwise stabilise hillsides in wet tropical climates.

Police officers carry a body bag as search and rescue operations continue in the landslide-hit village of Masara, Davao de Oro, Philippines, 8 February 2024. Reuters.

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.

Southeast Asia has two distinct Monsoon Seasons, with a Northeast Monsoon driven by winds from  the South China Sea during the Southern Hemisphere Summer and a Southwest Monsoon driven by winds from the southern Indian Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere Summer. 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.

The winds that drive the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons in Southeast Asia. Mynewshub.

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