Unusual, very large landslide hits Chunchi, Ecuador

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A very large landslide hit near the town of Chunchi in Chimborazo, Ecuador, on February 12, 2021. According to Dr. Dave Petley of The Landslide Blog, its scale makes the event unusual, as an entire hamlet disappeared after the slide.

A state of emergency has been declared in Chunchi as the landslide caused damaged and led to the disappearance of a hamlet. 

As a result of the landslide, two people sustained injuries, two bridges were damaged, and the Chunchi-La Armenia-Huigra road was completely closed.

About 200 families were evacuated, while another 350 in Huigra were moved to safer grounds. 

According to local media, the slide was caused by a geological fault and excess groundwater in the La Armenia sector. The central and local governments conducted measures and actions to clear the excess land.

"The scale of the landslide makes this a somewhat unusual event," said Dr. Petley, who described the landslide as very large. "The upper part of the landslide appears to be a very large rotational failure."

The main slide appears to have undercut the valley slide, he further explained, which caused another substantial area of failure.

Judging by the videos, Dr. Petley said the fail debris appears to have transformed into a flow with quite high levels of mobility in places.

"The biggest threat now appears to be blockage of the channel of the Picay River," he wrote. "Reports indicate that a lake is developing on the upstream side. Efforts are under way to create a channel to avoid an uncontrolled breach."

Featured image credit: ECU 911 Riobamba

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