2010 Gansu mudslide

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2010 Gansu mudslide
Time 11 midnight CST
Date 8 August 2010 (2010-08-08)
Location Gansu, China
1,471 dead[1]
294 missing
Gansu mudslide is located in China
Gansu mudslide
Gansu mudslide
Location of the Gansu mudslide

Coordinates: 33°47′N 104°22′E / 33.783°N 104.367°E / 33.783; 104.367 The 2010 Gansu mudslide was a deadly mudslide in Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, China that occurred at 12 midnight on 8 August 2010. It was caused by heavy rainfall and flooding in Gansu Province.[2][3] It was the most deadly individual disaster among the 2010 China floods as of 19 August 2010. The mudslides killed more than 1,471 people as of 21 August 2010, while 1,243 others have been rescued and 294 remain missing.[1][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The missing were presumed dead as officials ordered locals to stop searching for survivors or bodies to prevent the spread of disease.[11] Over 1,700 people evacuated have been living in schools.[5]


The worst hit location was Zhugqu County, where mud submerged houses and tore multi-story blocks of flats to pieces. The seat of Zhouqu County was densely populated, with 50,000 people (42,000 of them are permanent population) in an area of 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq mi).[12] After the heavy rain, there was a buildup of water behind a dam of debris blocking a small river to the north of the city of Zhugqu; when the dam broke, around 1,800,000 cubic metres (64,000,000 cu ft) of mud and rocks swept through the town, in a surge reported as up to five storeys high, covering more than 300 low-rise homes and burying at least one village entirely.[13][14] The mudslide left an area 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long by 300 metres (980 ft) wide in average leveled by mud with average thickness of 5 meters (16 ft).[15][16]

According to Gyurme Dorje's Tibet Handbook, the forest region of Zhugqu has, since the 1950s, "shrunk by 30% and the reserve of timber reduced by 25% due to overfelling. The sand in the river water has increased by 60%, and the water volume has reduced by 8%, resulting in increased flooding and drought." Furthermore, in this county there were between 47 and 53 hydroelectric construction projects in recent years, with 41 completed and 12 approaching deadline, according to government data. These together have caused 749,000 tons of water and soil erosion and over 3,000,000 cubic meters of bulldozed material. In 2006, a Lanzhou University report concluded that these projects have made the whole area a volatile danger-zone.[17][dubious ] The Christian Science Monitor reported that two science researchers had predicted the mudslides in 1997.[18]

The People's Daily has argued that the mudslide was due to a "perfect storm" of natural events, including "soft" "weathered" rock, heavy rainfall and drought and the Sichuan earthquake two years before.[19] Authorities dismissed claims that the mudslides were "man-made".[20]


Gansu province has received 120 million Chinese yuan (US$17.7 million) by 13 August.[8] Hong Kong and Macau both donated millions of dollars to Gansu, with Macau donating more than US$7 million,[21][22][23] and the United States donated $50,000 to Zhugqu County.[24] Gyaincain Norbu, China's 11th Panchen Lama choice, donated ¥50,000 to relief efforts and prayed for the victims.[25]


On 15 August, a day of mourning was observed, with flags lowered to half-mast at government buildings within China and at embassies in foreign countries. Additionally, all public and online entertainment was suspended, and major newspapers and internet sites were grayscaled. At the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, all activities were canceled. Such events are rare in China; only after an earlier earthquake in 2010 and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in recent years have such periods of mourning been observed.[10]


  1. ^ a b Deng, Shasha (2 September 2010). "Death toll from NW China mudslides rises to 1,471; 294 still missing". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "At least 127 dead, 1,300 missing in northwest China mudslides". Xinhua News Agency. 9 August 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "1,100 Missing in China As Asian Flood Misery Rises". NPR. 9 August 2010. Archived from the original on 9 August 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Wang, Guanqun (21 August 2010). "Death toll from NW China mudslides rises to 1,434". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Wire Staff, the CNN (20 August 2010). "Mudslide death toll in northwestern China rises to 1,407". Cable News Network. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  6. ^ "Life in mudslide-hit town goes on". Xinhua News Agency. 19 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  7. ^ News, CBC (14 August 2010). "China declares day of mourning for flood victims". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Wang, Peng (14 August 2010). "Death toll from China mudslide rises to 1,156; 588 still missing". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Death toll climbs to 1,117 in China mudslides". CNN. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "China mourns mudslide victims as relief operation continues". Xinhua. 16 August 2010. Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  11. ^ Xing, Guangli (22 August 2010). "Death toll from NW China mudslides rises to 1,435 as authorities ban further searching for the dead". Xinhua. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Mudslide disaster strikes Tibetan region of China". Euronews. 8 August 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  14. ^ Litany of warnings preceded mudslides, SCMP, 10 August 2010
  15. ^ [2][dead link]
  16. ^ An image of the disaster region is at http://spacegizmo.livingdazed.com/2010/08/10/zhugqu-china-mudslide/ – note that north is to the right in that image.
  17. ^ Dorje, Gyurme (2004). Tibet Handbook (3rd ed.). Footprint Travel Guides. p. 682. ISBN 978-1-903471-30-2. 
  18. ^ Ford, Peter (12 August 2010). "China mudslides were predicted 13 years ago". The Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  19. ^ Foyle, Robert (11 August 2010). "Gansu landslide: Another manmade disaster?". Shanghaiist. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  20. ^ Zhang, CriEnglish.com (13 August 2010). "Landslide Not "Man-Made": Authorities". Crienglish.com. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  21. ^ Society, China (12 August 2010). "Hong Kong, Macao donate to mainland disaster areas". People's Daily Online. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  22. ^ Mo, Hong'e (12 August 2010). "Macao donates over $7 mln for Gansu mudslide relief". Xinhua. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  23. ^ Society, China (13 August 2010). "HK proposes 50 mln HKD for mudslide victims in Gansu province". People's Daily Online. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  24. ^ Xinhua, English.news.cn (11 August 2010). "U.S. donates $50,000 to mudslide-flattened NW China county". Xinhuanet. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  25. ^ "Panchen Lama prays for mudslide victims". China Daily. 15 August 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2010.