Landslide deaths much higher than thought: study

Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:42am EDT
 
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By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) - Landslides killed more than 32,000 people across the world from 2004 to 2010 - up to 10 times more than previously thought, the first detailed study of the disasters showed on Thursday.

The new data on the scale of the problem should force governments to rethink how they dealt with the slides which have left a trail of destruction from China to Central and South America, researchers said.

"Landslides are a global hazard requiring a major change in perception and policy," said David Petley, lead researcher on the study at Britain's University of Durham.

"There are things that we can do to manage and mitigate landslide risks such as controlling land use, proactive forest management and guiding development away from vulnerable areas."

Information, collected in a database in Durham and published in the journal Geology on Thursday, showed 32,322 people died in 2,620 landslides across the world from 2004 to 2010.

Previous estimates ranged from 3,000 to 7,000 deaths over the same period, said the researchers.

The sharp difference in the estimates was probably due to the introduction of better data collection methods, they added.

Last month, floods and landslides killed more than 100 people in southern Russia after two month's average rainfall fell in a few hours.   Continued...