New Caledonia – Landslides and Floods Leave 5 Dead, 3 Missing

Several days of heavy rain has caused deadly flooding and landslides in New Caledonia.

Eastern parts of the main island, Grande Terre, have been the worst hit, with the biggest landslides occurring in the municipality of Houaïlou, where at least 5 people have died and 3 are still missing.

President Hollande expressed his condolences to the families and relatives of the victims yesterday, and gave his full support to the inhabitants of New Caledonia. The President also acknowledged the work of the rescue teams who are fully committed to dealing with the situation.

Images of the landslide site show where a large parts of mountainside had collapsed, destroying everything in its path. A local commentator suggested that rivers and creeks have been blocked by mining waste, and mountainside eroded by bush fires and drought.

Roads have been blocked by flooding and landslides, and several other communities remain isolated. Telecommunications, power and drinking water supplies have also been severely affected. The French Red Cross installed a water purification unit and drinking water and other essential relief supplies have been distributed to the affected areas.

Elsewhere on Grande Terre, the municipality of Kouaoua has also been badly affected by flooding and landslides, although no fatalities have been reported there.

The municipalities of Canala, Thio, Koné, Poya and Pouembout have also been affected, with reports of some roads blocked and schools closed.

Overflowing rivers in Houaïlou. Photo: Wawa Désirée Waitea
Overflowing rivers in Houaïlou. Photo: Wawa Désirée Waitea / Facebook

Rainfall

Meteo France says that New Caledonia has seen heavy rain since Sunday, 20 November, 2016.

“A depression, south of the Solomon Islands, widened and slowly headed south on Saturday 19 November, while at the same time a mass of warm tropical air of tropical descended in the region. These conditions generated torrential rains on the east of New Caledonia, accompanied by thunderstorms and gusts of wind, especially in the Houaïlou / Kouaoua areas.”

Meteo France recorded 401.1mm of rain in 12 hours between 21 and 22 November at Méa, a weather station in the mountains close to the east coast. It is thought that the heavy rain in this mountainous area led to the landslides and extensive damage in the Houïalou and Kouaoua municipalities.

Elsewhere on the islands, 256.3 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours between 21 and 22 November at the Aoupinié station. At Poindimié, 58 mm of rain was recorded in just 1 hour on 21 November.

Accumulation of precipitation from 21 November 2016 at 11:00 to 22 November 2016 at 23:00
Image: Accumulation of precipitation from 21 November 2016 at 11:00 to 22 November 2016 at 23:00. Image: Meteo France

According to WMO figures, 81 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Art Island, Belep Islands, between 19 and 20 November. Moue, Ile des Pins, recorded 59 mm in 24 hours to 22 November.

Social Media

Flood summary

Last updated: November 23, 2016
Event
New Caledonia, November 2016
Date
November 20, 2016
Type
Landslide, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall, Long-term rainfall

Locations

A - Ouakaya, Houaïlou
B - Aoupinié

Magnitude

Rainfall level
256.3 mm in 24 hours
Aoupinié - November 21 to November 22, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
5 people
Houaïlou - November 20 to November 23, 2016

Add Comment