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February 24, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Heavy Rains Cause Landslides Around the World


Madeira Landslides: MSNBC

Heavy rains caused landslides this past weekend that killed dozens in Madeira, the main island of the Portuguese archipelago of the same name in the Atlantic Ocean just over 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. A month’s worth of rain fell in about eight hours, unleashing a torrent of water and mud that swept away people, houses and vehicles. Several people are still unaccounted for.

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs, navy divers and bulldozers have been involved in the search. Crews pumped rainwater and mud out of a shopping mall’s underground parking lot in the capital, Funchal, where officials fear more bodies may be found. The parking lot’s two levels were completely submerged.

Evacuations have been ordered due to more showers and fears of more landslides. Over 500 people are living in shelters.

The public records for the island are a little sketchy but indicate this storm is the deadliest natural disaster on the island since the late 1800’s, which killed at least 42.  

Indonesia: Associated Press

By Tuesday in Indonesia, days of heavy rain triggered a landslide at a tea plantation on the main island of Java killing at least five and burying dozens more under mud and debris.

No heavy earth-moving equipment was available in the area, so villagers were digging through tons of dislodged mud with farm tools and their bare hands to search for survivors. The Red Cross is stepping in, sending a helicopter and excavating equipment to the area. Rescue teams and sniffer dogs have been sent to the site, which is 90 miles southeast of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Several hundred villagers who have lost their homes have been evacuated to neighboring villages.

Landslides as the result of monsoon rains are a common occurrence in Indonesia.

Maierato, Italy: Reuters

Last week in Italy a massive landslide swept through after heavy rains saturated the ground in the Calabria region.

Around 200 residents of the southern Italian town were evacuated after the enormous landslide tore down pylons and wrecked buildings.

Luckily no deaths or injuries were reported. Many local residents had to be evacuated.

The country has a history of terrifying landslides. In the most recent, in October 2009, 29 people were killed in the Sicilian city of Messina and a state of emergency was declared by the Italian government.


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