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Drugchu landslide disaster PDF Print E-mail
[19 August] Over 1,400 people have been killed in landslides and flooding that hit Drugchu County (Chinese: Zhouqu) in Gansu province on 8 August. The Chinese government initiated a mass rescue effort in Drugchu town, where over 300 buildings have been buried by mud and thousands made homeless. However, there is criticism that the government did not heed previous warnings that excessive expolitation of natural resources in the region would lead to such a disaster.


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Over 1,400 killed in Drugchu landslide
Deadly floods strike Ladakh
Links to news reports


Over 1,400 killed in Drugchu landslide

Drugchu landslideChinese media sources, as of 23 August, reported that 1,435 people were confirmed dead, 330 people remained missing and over 45,000 had been made homeless by the landslides and flooding that hit Drugchu County on 8 August.

The landslides were triggered by torrential rains that began the day before. Landslide debris blocked a river which then burst its banks, sending water, rocks and mud down the hillside and through the town of Drugchu. According to Xinhua, the thick layer of mud levelled an area 5km (3 miles) by 500m which included approximately 300 buildings.
(
Click here to see BBC's before & after aerial views of Drugchu.)

Drugchu County is in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. Now under Chinese administration, Drugchu (Ch: Zhouqu) is in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. Tibetans account for about a third of the county's population of 135,000. The region is mountainous, and Drugchu county sits in a steep valley of the Bailong River, a tributary of the Jialing River, which eventually joins the Yangtze River.

Despite the recent heavy rains, from the Asain monsoon, the Drugchu landslide is believed to be more than just a natural disaster, as man-made developments are thought to have played a significant part.

Drugchu landslideExperts have criticised Chinese authorities for not heeding warnings that decades of logging, mining and damming rivers were making the Drugchu region vulnerable to landslides and flooding. The intensive expoitation and development of the region has led to soil ersion and destabilised hillsides, according to a report by Lanzhou University. Local authorities have ignored reports urging the restoration of environmental defences in the Drugchu area, which were deemed a "high-occurence disaster zone for landslides" by the Chinese government.

The Asian monsoon, which has had catastrophic consequences in Pakistan, has also affected many other parts of the region, including Ladakh in India and Sichuan province in China.

Deadly floods strike Ladakh
Ladakh floodOn 5 August at least 185 people were killed by flash floods in Leh, Ladakh, which is located in the Kashmir region of India. Three Tibetans are known to have been among the dead. Four hundred people are missing and 80% of infrastructure is reported to be partially damaged or totally destroyed. The flash floods were triggered by a massive cloudburst near Choglamsar village, where a branch school of the Tibetan Childrens Village is located.

Links to news reports
Xinhua: Chinese Premier says getting life back to normal now priority for mudslide-hit Zhouqu (23 Aug)
Xinhua: Death toll from NW China mudslides rises to 1,287 (18 Aug)
Reuters: China marks day of mourning for landslide victims (14 Aug)
Christian Science Monitor: China mudslides were predicted 13 years ago (12 Aug)
BBC: Nature's fury: China's deadly landslides (12 Aug)
Journalist Jonathan Watts on the environemental impact of man-made developments in Tibet, including the Drugchu landslide. (2 min video report)
Telegraph: China's deadly landslide 'not an accident' (11 Aug)
BBC: Chinese town reeling after landslide (10 Aug)
BBC: China landslide: More than 700 people confirmed dead (10 Aug)
AP: Photos from Drugchu

Huffington Post: Eyewitness account of Ladakh disaster (16 Aug)
Phayul: Three Tibetans killed in flash floods in Ladakh (6 Aug)

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