Monday, February 04, 2013

Landslide in Cameron Highlands and Malaysia

Landslide are common occurrence in Cameron Highlands. Wherever there are hill-slope, high rainfall, insufficient vegetation to prevent soil erosion, landslide would occur. Although I have not faced such misfortune, I don't want to think about it whenever I go up the highlands. After all, disaster is beyond our human control and I leave it to God for our protection and safe journey.

If PWD can come up with the system to predict the probability of landslide, it could be good. Because whenever tourist going up CH, for those who worry, they called up their hotel and asked about landslide. They also email me too. Like I said, nobody knows if there was a landslide or whether a landslide would occur. So until such a predicting system was put up by PWD, just cross your fingers and pray to God that your drive up Cameron Highlands would be uneventful.


Predicting future landslides
By P. Aruna
Monday February 4, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Work has begun on an early warning system that can send out alerts at least two hours before a landslide occurs.

People living in landslide-prone areas will be warned via TV and radio, enabling quicker evacuation.

The Public Works Department (PWD) is in the process of creating the system, similar to the high-tech model used in landslide-prone Hong Kong.

The PWD had already conducted pilot studies at two "hot spots" Bukit Antarabangsa, Selangor and the Tapah-Cameron Highlands road.

"We are targeting 90% accuracy so it requires a lot of data on rainfall patterns and intensity in the vulnerable areas," said PWD's slope engineering unit head Dr Che Hassandi Abdullah.

The PWD's Landslide Warning System (LWS) is currently being tested at Bukit Antarabangsa.

He said the department's challenge was to ensure it was accurate enough to prevent false alarms.

"We don't want to end up crying wolf too many times. No one would take the alerts seriously after the first few false calls," he said.

The LWS is being designed to provide warnings at least two hours ahead, compared with the three-hour benchmark set by Hong Kong.

The department has identified 21,000 landslide-prone areas throughout the country out of which 16,000 or 76% are in peninsular Malaysia while about 3,000 are in Sabah and 2,000 in Sarawak.

Based on the huge amount of data needed to ensure precision, full implementation could take up to five years.

Dr Hassandi said data from the Malaysian Meteorological Department and the Drainage and Irrigation Department would be analysed with the patterns of rainfall and intensity that had triggered previous landslides.

The PWD would use mobile and satellite communications to transmit data from the monitored areas to the central monitoring system managed by its slope engineering division.

Dr Hassandi said the National Security Council (NSC) had agreed to allow the alerts to be broadcast over television and radio, if the warning system proved to be accurate.

"We would also put up signboards to warn people not to use roads in landslide-hit areas. If is a major landslide, the NSC would decide whether residents should be evacuated," he said.

He said landslides occurred during or immediately after rain, adding that most were in rural areas, with the exception of Ampang Jaya in Selangor.

"Rainfall does not cause landslides but triggers them on slopes that are unsafe or dangerous," he said.

He said major landslides were easier to predict than minor ones because there would be warning signs such as widening cracks on structures in or outside homes or concentrated amounts of water overflowing onto slopes.

"But minor landslides can be equally dangerous, as when a car passing by at the time could be buried or pushed over a cliff," he said.

Besides the LWS, research funded through Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) by the Japanese government is also being conducted on hillslopes in Jeli, Kelantan, Kenyir, Terengganu, the Kelantan river basin and the East-West Highway to monitor earth movements and floods.

The data collected would be used for the development of site-specific geo-hazard early warning systems.

"We are working with USM researchers by providing advice and information on critical sites to place instruments," Dr Hassandi said, adding that the department was certain that it could use the data from the research.

UKM working on 'second skin' for hillslopes

PETALING JAYA: Researchers at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) are creating a mulching mixture which can prevent landslides when sprayed over bare soil on hillslopes.

Research team head Datuk Ahmad Fuad Embi said the mixture comprising nutrients, fibre, gluing agents and plant seeds, would act like an invisible plastic cover over the earth, protecting it from erosion during intense rainfall.

"After being sprayed on the soil, the grass seeds in the mixture will grow within two weeks, covering and protecting the soil," he said.

The team has been working on the project since the end of last year and is expected to get it ready for trials by the end of this year.

Ahmad Fuad, who is former deputy director-general of the Drainage and Irrigation Department, said such mulching mixtures had never been used in Malaysia as they were very expensive to import.

Besides, the seeds used in them were also unsuitable for tropical climates.

He said the team's challenge was to select the most suitable local grass seeds, adding that if successful, the local mulching product could be mass-produced at low cost.

"This can effectively solve the ongoing problem of erosion and sedimentation, especially with the country experiencing more landslides in recent years," he said.

PWD: Rain monitoring systems can help to cut cost

PETALING JAYA: Existing rainfall-monitoring systems to warn against floods can complement the Landslide Warning System (LWS) to minimise cost, says Public Works Department's slope engineering division director Dr Che Hassandi Abdullah.

He said data from the Drainage and Irrigation Department and the Meteorological Department's (MET) automated meteorological weather stations could be used for the LWS.

He said the department's report on the National Slope Master Plan showed that there were 50 automated meteorological weather stations in the peninsula but none in Sabah and Sarawak.

"The department would have to set up its own automated stations in the landslide-prone areas in these two states," added Dr Hassandi.

He noted that most of the MET's automated stations were located on flat ground and instead of hilly terrain where they would be most useful for landslide warning systems.

He said the system was being developed mainly for the Ampang-Ulu Klang area a major landslide-prone zone due to its hilly terrain and intense rainfall pattern.

Dr Hassandi said the Public Works Department had divided the country into six major regions, based on geological structure and weather patterns, to enable easier monitoring and management of the early landslide warning system. -- The Star


Rape of the land: Severely eroded slopes along the 23rd km to 27th km stretch of the Simpang Pulai- Cameron Highlands road.
Rape of the land: Severely eroded slopes along the 23rd km to 27th km
stretch of the Simpang Pulai- Cameron Highlands road.

Cameron route to get 24-hour watch
Fri, 28 Dec 2012
By Fong Kee Soon

IPOH: Landslide hotspots along the Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands route are being monitored round-the-clock by the state Public Works Department (PWD).

Kinta district engineer Ir Abu Bakar Mohd Said said the department's personnel are onsite daily, checking for signs of erosion.

"Roads would be sealed off if they are a danger to motorists.

"The route is safe and there has not been any recent reports of landslides.

"The department is also in the midst of repairing some of the slopes especially along the stretch from the 23rd to the 27th kilometre," he said when contacted yesterday.

V. Vijayan, 63, a regular traveller to Cameron Highlands, said barren slopes which had suffered massive erosion give the impression that landslides may occur any time especially during a downpour.

"Any exposed slope should be repaired immediately," said the retired civil servant.

Property consultant Calvin Chai suggested that the authorities cover exposed slopes with tarpaulin.

Chai regularly travels with his wife from Ipoh to Tringkap in Cameron Highlands to visit his in-laws.

The public can inform the PWD of unusual soil movements and erosion at 1-800-88-33-77, email or SMS 32728. -- The Star

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