Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 18, 2006

Logging, mudslide, disaster

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 11:43 am

From today’s LA Times:

As many as 1,800 people remained missing today after a sea of mud crushed a remote mountain village on the Philippine island of Leyte, authorities said.

The mud was as deep as 30 feet in some areas, completely covering houses and an elementary school in the village of Guinsaugon. Rescuers who dug with their hands in the soft mud Friday saved about 80 people, many with broken limbs.

“There are no signs of life, no rooftops, no nothing,” Southern Leyte province Gov. Rosette Lerias said after visiting the scene.

The mudslide followed nearly two weeks of heavy rains in the central Philippine region about 420 miles southeast of Manila.

The area is known for its geological instability, and authorities warned villagers to evacuate. When the rains appeared to be easing, however, many residents returned, Lerias said.

Some villagers and environmentalists blamed the slide on ILLEGAL LOGGING carried out from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. But authorities said vegetation had returned to the area and that trees slid down along with the mud.


The results of a cursory search in Lexis-Nexis using the keywords: “logging”, “mudslide” and “disaster”:

Independent (London), May 30, 2004:

A disaster of grotesque proportions is unfolding in the Caribbean where floods on the island of Hispaniola have delivered death and destruction to one of the world’s poorest regions on a scale far greater than first thought.

Yesterday, as the death toll climbed inexorably towards 2,500, a senior United Nations official in Haiti said that some 75,000 people face a “continuing emergency”. Another feared the numbers affected could reach 100,000.

Survivors said yesterday that children and the elderly stood little chance as the waters – “like a flood in the Bible”, according to farmer Fernando Gueren – cascaded down mountains DENUDED OF TREES BY DECADES OF LOGGING on to homes below. “Imagine a tidal wave 12ft high crashing down a mountain,” said Adam Blackwell, the Canadian ambassador. “Entire families have been wiped out.”


The Guardian (London), December 22, 2003

Hundreds of villagers were buried in mud as they slept after floods and landslides swept through the Philippine province of Southern Leyte at the weekend.

Rescuers worked with their bare hands and crowbars to dig out victims after the mudslides began on Friday night. Officials fear at least 200 people are dead and many more are homeless.

“The mountain just came down on them,” a police general, Dionisio Coloma, said in a radio interview from the town of Liloan. The rescue is being hampered by continuing bad weather which has blocked roads, brought down power lines and prevented the arrival of Philippine and US army helicopters. Pounding seas around the islands of six affected provinces have made boat access perilous.

The landslides struck an area south-east of Ormoc, also in Leyte province, where landslides and flash floods killed more than 5,000 people in a few hours on November 5, 1991. Heavy rains had fallen on hillsides DENUDED BY RAMPANT LOGGING, with debris sweeping down the hillsides, leaving metres-high piles of bloated corpses.


The New York Times, August 2, 2001:

After days of torrential rains, floods and landslides poured down mountainsides early this morning on Nias, an Indonesian island 60 miles off the coast of Sumatra, sweeping away entire villages and causing at least 60 deaths, local officials said.

Hundreds more people were reported missing in the deluge that engulfed the tiny island, where surfers from around the world gather for the long breakers but where mountain settlements are cut off from the outside.

The disaster was the latest in a rising number of flash floods around Indonesia and elsewhere, where UNCONTROLLED LOGGING has stripped mountainsides of the vegetation that holds rainfall and the earth itself.


The Boston Globe, December 11, 1998, Friday

It might be easy to dismiss Hurricane Mitch as a terrible natural disaster for Central America – a case of truly ill luck. But the tragedy was more of a human disaster than a natural one.

While Mitch was the most violent storm to hit Honduras and Nicaragua in 200 years, WIDESPREAD DEFORESTATION and other environmental damage heightened its power. Much of the worst destruction occurred not where the rains and wind were strongest – but in deforested areas where people lived and farmed on marginal land. And Mitch is not an isolated incident. The shortsighted use of natural resources is causing tragic ecological disasters around the world.


The Independent (London), May 7, 1998

ENVIRONMENTALISTS yesterday blamed decades of bad land management for the mudslide disaster which struck the hilly area east of Naples in the southern Italian region of Campania following which at least 37 people were reported dead and 71 more missing. Driving rain had sent torrents of mud from surrounding hills coursing through towns and villages on Monday and Tuesday.

“This disaster was totally predictable,” said Alberto Fiorillo, a spokesman for the Legambiente environmental group.

GRUBBING UP TREES and burning off scrub-land to increase pasture or clear areas for unregulated construction has led to massive erosion in the Sarno valley, and throughout the Campania region, Signor Fiorillo said. The Sarno river itself no longer exists, its water has been drawn off by industry and its bed has been built on. There is no longer anywhere for flood waters to escape.


Chicago Sun-Times, November 24, 1996:

A mudslide that killed four people last week came down from a steep hillside that had been stripped of trees by a lumber company 10 years earlier, state forestry officials confirmed Friday.

An aerial survey of forest landslides after last winter’s flooding showed an overwhelming number of them were in AREAS THAT HAD BEEN STRIPPED or where logging roads had been built, said Andy Stahl, director of the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.


The Gazette (Montreal), November 7, 1991:

More than 2,400 people were reported killed and tens of thousands left homeless after a tropical storm triggered deadly flash floods and mudslides in the central Philippines, relief officials said yesterday.

Residents of Ormoc, a city of 150,000 people, said the floodwaters, preceded by a great roar, uprooted trees, flushed cars down the street and ripped wooden houses from their foundations.

“Bodies were stacked on sidewalks. Some were bloated … They were using payloaders to dig mass graves,” said Lito Osmena, governor of nearby Cebu island, who flew to Ormoc.

“The forests are gone and I guess OVER-LOGGING IS ONE OF THE MAJOR CAUSES of this disaster,” Osmena said. “That area gets several typhoons a year but they never resulted in something like this. I think it is because the forests are gone.”


The Guardian (London), November 28, 1988:

Relief workers are fighting a sea of mud and mountains of logs to retrieve the victims of floods and mudslides that hit southern Thailand in one of the country’s worst disasters.

About 400 people have died and hundreds more are missing, feared dead, a week after heavy rain lashed the south, causing floods and mudslides the engulfed entire villages in the worst-hit province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The disaster has brought angry condemnations of forest destruction and ILLEGAL LOGGING by powerful vested interests are held responsible for the devastating mudslides.

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