Earlier this month, devastating mudslides hit northwest China’s Gansu province leaving some 1,500 people dead. As classes resumed for primary- and middle-school students today, experts have called for a careful and systematic approach to rebuilding efforts.
Wu Faquan, director of Engineering Geomechanics Lab at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua news agency that better planning in mudslide-prone zones could prevent future disasters.
"Local geological conditions should be reassessed and the risks of natural disasters reviewed before drawing up plans for reconstruction," he said, quoted by the news provider.
Mudslides are also a danger, although on a smaller scale, in the mountainous regions of the U.S., where they are estimated to kill 25 to 50 people every year.
However, there are many ways to protect households from this type of danger.
The Emergency Survival Information Center recommends refraining from building houses near steep slopes, close to mountain edges, near drainage ways or natural erosion valleys. Individuals who live in such areas are advised to get a ground assessment of their property and consult a professional about possible corrective measures.
A person caught in a landslide should move away from the path of the mud, earth or debris flow as quickly as possible. If escape is not possible, it is best to curl into a tight ball to protect the head, safety and survival experts say.