'Quake aftermath will bring years of mudslides'

08:34, August 26, 2010      

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China is expected to experience more mudslides and landslides in the next decade as the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan of Sichuan province has increased the risks of more geological disasters, researchers have warned.

"Mudslides have become one of the major geological disasters caused by earthquakes. The volume of loosened solid materials like stones and sand in the massive Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 is estimated to be 3,000 cubic meters, increasing the risks of mudslides and landslides," said Cui Peng, researcher of the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The loosened materials, coupled with certain weather factors, create ripe conditions for potential mudslides and landslides, he added.

"Given the situation, the active period for mudslides will last 15 years after the earthquake," Cui added.

Exact predictions of mudslides and landslides are still impossible as the reasons for geological disasters are too complicated, said Guang Fengjun, director of the department of geological environment with the Ministry of Land and Resources.

"The assessment and administration system for potential areas of geological disasters should be put on top of the country's disaster relief and prevention agenda," said Wu Shuren, a researcher with the Institute of Geomechanics under the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

Rain-triggered mudslides killed at least 18 people in Wenchuan and Qingchuan counties in Southwest China's Sichuan province, which is still recovering from the magnitude-8.0 Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008.

As of Sunday, at least 1,447 people were confirmed dead and another 318 are still missing two weeks after mudslides triggered by torrents hit Zhouqu county, Gansu province, on Aug 8, north of Wenchuan, an area that was also hit by the devastating earthquake.

Officials have detected more than 200,000 potential areas for geological disasters, said Yin Yueping, a senior engineer with China Geological Survey under the Ministry of Land and Resources.

"But we still have a long way to go as extreme weather events are becoming frequent," he warned.

The country has recorded more than 26,000 geological disasters, ranging from landslides to ground erosion, in the first seven months of this year, nearly four times the number in the same period last year, the latest statistics from the Ministry of Land and Resources showed.

Source: China Daily


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