Dams and Landslides

Landslide threatens Chongqing apartment building

Kelly Haggart

June 12, 2002

A big landslide that fell into downtown Chongqing last week is still hanging on the hillside just a few metres above a 10-storey apartment building, which is liable to be engulfed at any moment, China News Service (Zhongguo xinwen she) reports.

The rock fall, which occurred June 3 in the city’s Yuzhong district, may have been triggered by the month of incessant rain in the area, and possibly also by construction work on a light railway being built nearby, the news agency said.

The quick thinking of a safety inspector on the construction site helped avert fatalities, the report said. The man sounded the alarm as soon as he saw small rocks falling, which gave people time to flee. No one was injured, and police sealed off the danger zone and moved residents of the threatened building to safety.

The landslide fell onto a main street at the peak of the rush hour, halting traffic and forcing commuters in the steeply sloped city to walk home, the news agency said. The safety inspector said the rock fall had occurred in a landslide-prone area that sits atop a major fault line.

In its recent annual report on the state of China’s environment, issued May 31, the State Environmental Protection Administration said 40 landslides occurred in the Three Gorges area last year, the Three Gorges Project Daily (Sanxia Gongcheng bao) reported on June 5.

Experts are increasingly concerned that Three Gorges project-related construction, including the building of hundreds of new settlements, and the impounding next year of the dam’s massive reservoir, could cause serious geological disasters in the fragile mountain area.

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