Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sinkhole - USA (California) JAN

SAN DIEGO — An unstable chunk of hillside in the upscale La Jolla neighborhood slipped another five or six feet Thursday afternoon, shoving into already-damaged houses at the bottom of the slide zone.

The city has been rushing to stabilize the street of million-dollar homes since the initial collapse in October sent a 200-foot-long section of earth 20 feet downhill.

"It's not uncommon for this to happen as you're making those repairs in a landslide zone but it's still a setback," said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders in a news conference at the site.

Workers were preparing to drive giant steel pins into the toe of the slide zone when the land began to shift again. Pins have already been positioned 60 to 65 feet deep along the lip of the collapse on Soledad Mountain Road to hold the rest of the earth in place while repairs and reconstruction proceed.

City spokesman Bill Harris said it's not clear how much additional damage the new collapse has caused to houses at the bottom of the slide zone.

There were no reports of injuries.

Six houses were uninhabitable after October's collapse. Residents have blamed the city for not recognizing the threat after cracks appeared in the street above. It caused an estimated $48 million in damage. - Source

Sinkhole - USA (Maryland) JAN

It's been three years since the first sinkhole formed in front of the Annapolis Glenwood high-rise and a solution still seems out of reach.

With a nearly $2 million price tag on the fix for the original - and still growing - sinkhole, and now another one, officials at the Annapolis Housing Authority are asking for help anywhere they can, especially after the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development turned down previous funding requests.

Since the first sinkhole formed three years ago, the housing authority has spent more than $200,000 on repairs and stabilization. Another sinkhole appeared in November.

And now, Eric Brown, executive director for the housing authority, says he doesn't know what options he has left.

Mr. Brown told members of the RESPECT group at a Jan. 3 meeting the issue of the sinkhole would be addressed this year, but he's still unsure how.

Representatives from HUD's Baltimore office visited the Glenwood site Dec. 12 with Mr. Brown and ultimately determined the housing authority should reach out to local government for financial assistance in fixing the hole.

"Our next plan is to apply to HUD for emergency funding," Mr. Brown said. "I don't know whether we will get that or not, but it's one of the many avenues we've been pursuing."

"As a very last resort, we may have to try to find some other means of doing it," Mr. Brown said. "And I don't know what that is, despite very deep and severe cuts to agency personnel and I don't want to go down that road."

Last year, the housing authority asked the city for $600,000 only to be turned down.

A letter to the housing authority dated Aug. 23, 2007 from Mayor Ellen O. Moyer called the request "a major unbudgeted capital program."

Bob Agee, city administrator and acting director of Public Works, said city employees went out to the Glenwood site last summer to see if there was a way prevent the sinkhole from growing and what was causing it.

They left without an answer to either question.

"It keeps happening over and over and will keep happening because it's a cause that hasn't been addressed," Mr. Agee said of the sinkhole.

One long-time resident of Glenwood, who asked to not be named, said the residents weren't very happy and didn't expect to see a resolution to the problem coming anytime soon - mainly because of the large price tag.

"It's been this way for quite a long while," she said. "Several firms have come over and given estimates, but each time the price seems to go up."

Mr. Brown is now asking local public officials, including city leaders and U.S. Rep. John P. Sarbanes, to provide letters of support to HUD, asking for $1.2 million in emergency funding support.

Mr. Sarbanes wrote to HUD Jan. 11, requesting a meeting with the agency at Glenwood and asking them to provide the funding needed.

"I urge the department to provide the Annapolis Housing Authority with HUD emergency capital funds which are explicitly reserved for 'emergencies and natural disasters' like this situation," he wrote. "The housing authority's total annual budget represents merely one-third of the total cost for repair of the sinkhole. Without these additional funds, the sinkhole may continue to deteriorate and present significant risk to residents of the Glenwood Apartments."

Maria Bynum, a spokesman for HUD, said they have yet to respond to Mr. Sarbanes inquiry, but would be arranging a follow-up soon.

The housing authority currently has about $600,000 already put aside for the sinkhole. Mr. Brown said that amount paired with the $1.2 million they are asking for should be enough to fix the problems, even though previous estimates on fixing the hole ranged from $1.1 to $2.6 million.

"It's my hope that there will be a quick turnaround on this, but meanwhile we're looking for other (funding) sources as well," he said.

City officials say they don't mean to turn a blind eye on the residents of Glenwood, but it's just not something they budgeted for.

"We know it costs money, but the city is not contributing to the problem and we just couldn't justify spending city taxpayer money," Mr. Agee said. "We'd be happy to be part of the solution if there's a role for us. We've tried to be of assistance down the line." - Source

Landslide - Philippines (Davao Del Norte) JAN

TAGUM CITY, Davao Del Norte -- Two houses and a church were buried by a landslide that occurred in a mining village on Mt. Diwata in Monkayo, Compostela Valley province, on Wednesday, local officials said on Friday.

No one was injured in the 2 a.m. landslide that hit Purok (community) 1A and Purok 18 but over P300,000 worth of property was damaged according to village chief Francisco Tito.

Tito said incessant rains triggered the landslide.

Cave-ins and landslides often occur on Mt. Diwata, prompting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to conduct a hazard mapping survey last year.

The MGB said its hazard mapping survey indicated that the village was sitting on unstable soil and that the risk of life-threatening landslides was high.

The MGB also recommended that residents vacate landslide-prone areas in the mining village. - Source

Landslide - China (Tianjin) JAN

TIANJIN, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers have found the bodies of seven people buried by a landslide at a quarry in north China's Tianjin city, but four others are still missing, the city government said Saturday,

The landslide occurred at around 9:20 a.m. on January 13 at the Baijian Township in Jixian County. Eleven persons were buried in the accident.

Rescuers had saved one from the debris. And the injured was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Rescuers are still working to locate the buried and cranes would be used to remove the huge rocks fallen in the large-scale landslide.

The county government has closed 59 quarries after the accident. - Source

Landslide - Malaysia (Pahang) JAN

KUANTAN, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- Two foreign workers in Cameron Highlands were buried alive when a landslide occurred at a vegetable farm Thursday night.

Pahang CID Chief ACP T. Narenasagaran said one of the victims was a 20-year old Nepalese while the other a 38-year-old Bangladeshi.

"The landslide measuring seven-metres happened all of a sudden and buried the victims," he told reporters here Friday.

He said another Nepalese, in his 20s, escaped unhurt when other workers managed to pull him out from the rubble. - Source

Earthquake - Colombia (Bogota) JAN

BOGOTA -- Some 8,000 people living near the Galeras volcano on the southern border with Ecuador were evacuated as a precaution late Thursday after the mountain erupted causing no reported injuries, officials said.

Galeras Volcano Eruption

"The protocol dictates that local mayors have to evacuate high-risk area inhabitants. These people must head to shelters or safety zones," said Narino department government secretary Guillermo Garcia.

Authorities said high-risk areas include Pasto city, 920 kilometers (570 miles) south of Bogota, and the towns of Sandona, Narino, Yacuanquer, Consaca and Genoy.

In all, some 8,000 people have been asked to evacuate their homes, they added.

"The eruption was a little strong, but according to the Pasto Volcanology Observatory it's not serious," Garcia said.

"However, we have to follow the entire protocol, which the inhabitants of the high-risk area know very well," he added.

He said the 400,000 residents of Pasto have been "specially advised to stock up with water, gas masks and flashlights."

The 4,276-meter (14,028-foot) active volcano, which overlooks Pasto, began erupting at 8:06 pm (0106 GMT Friday).

It last erupted in 1992, 1993, 2004 and 2006. In 1993, Galeras killed nine people. - Source