Nepal River Blocked by Landslide a Reminder of Post-Quake Dangers

The landslide at Ramche village in Myagdi district, about 140km north-west of Kathmandu, Nepal, struck late on Saturday 23 May 2015.

The landslide blocked the Kali Gandaki river, creating a dam about 200 metres deep and a 100 metres wide. The dam blocked the river and created an artificial lake said to have been between 1 and 2 km long, leading to fears about the safety of thousands of people living in villages along the river, in particular the districts of Parbat, Syangja, Gulmi, Palpa, Nawalparasi and Chitwan.

The river has since begun flowing again and many of those displaced are returning to their homes. “The river has started overflowing the dam. The water build-up is no more rising,” police official Kamal Singh Bam told Reuters on Sunday 24 May. “We think it will not breach the dam suddenly and cause downstream floods. But the risk for that is not totally out yet,” he said.

Around 30 houses have been damaged in the floods. Evacuations were promptly carried out and no injuries were reported. However, the landslide and blockage of the river serve as a reminder of the vulnerability of many slopes in Nepal after the devastating earthquake of April 2015.

Weakend Slopes Pose Further Landslide and Flood Risk

Earlier this month, researchers from the University of Michigan reported that the threat of landslides and mudslides remains high across much of Nepal’s high country after the earthquake

The analysis revealed tens of thousands of locations at high risk. On the findings of her team’s research, Marin Clark said, “The majority (of the landslides), we expect, have already happened and came down all at once with the shaking on Saturday (25 April). But there will still be slopes that have not yet failed but were weakened. So there will be a continued risk during aftershocks and with the recent rainfall, and again when the monsoon rains arrive this summer.”

A massive landslide that struck in the Nepal district of Sindhupalchowk in August last year blocked the Sunkoshi (Sun Kosi) river, threatening to flood communities along the river as far downstream as India.