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Fatal landslides in Europe

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Landslides are a major hazard causing human and large economic losses worldwide. However, the quantification of fatalities and casualties is highly underestimated and incomplete, thus, the estimation of landslide risk is rather ambitious. Hence, a spatio-temporal distribution of deadly landslides is presented for 27 European countries over the last 20  years (1995–2014). Catastrophic landslides are widely distributed throughout Europe, however, with a great concentration in mountainous areas. In the studied period, a total of 1370 deaths and 784 injuries were reported resulting from 476 landslides. Turkey showed the highest fatalities with 335. An increasing trend of fatal landslides is observed, with a pronounced number of fatalities in the latest period from 2008 to 2014. The latter are mostly triggered by natural extreme events such as storms (i.e., heavy rainfall), earthquakes, and floods and only minor by human activities, such as mining and excavation works. Average economic loss per year in Europe is approximately 4.7 billion Euros. This study serves as baseline information for further risk mapping by integrating deadly landslide locations, local land use data, and will therefore help countries to protect human lives and property.

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This work was funded in part by the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as part of the University of Florida Pre-eminence Initiative.

Paula Silva and Pedro Lamas work was supported by UID/GEO/04035/2013. Spanish landslides data have been obtained from the MOVES database which it is currently being developed in the “Base de datos de Movimietos del Terreno en España” project funded by the Geological Survey and Mining of Spain (IGME). The authors also thank Nagy Imre, Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Serbia; Arshavir Avagyan and Alexander Arakelyan, Institute of Geological Sciences, Armenia; Graziella Devoli, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy directorate, Oslo, Norway; Jelena Golijanin, Department of Geography, University of East Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina for verifying Serbian, Armenian, Norwegian and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s data. The authors also thank Professor Gregory E. Glass for his valuable comments. Last but not least, we would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their fruitful comments.

Author contributions

Ubydul Haque conceived the study design, prepared the database, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. David Keellings and Philipp Blum contributed to the methodology and drafted the methods, results, and figures as well as edited the manuscript. Paula F. da Silva, Graziella Devoli, Peter Andersen, Jürgen Pilz, Sergey R. Chalov, Jean-Philippe Malet, Mateja Jemec Auflič, Norina Andres, Eleftheria Poyiadji, Jelena Golijanin, Pedro C. Lamas, Wenyi Zhang, Igor Peshevski, Halldór G. Pétursson, Tayfun Kurt, Nikolai Dobrev, Juan Carlos García-Davalillo, and George Gaprindashvili contributed with data collection, study design, interpretation of findings and edited the manuscript. Johanna Engström contributed to figure production and data visualization. Matina Halkia, Stefano Ferri and Martino Pesaresi shared European settlement data. All authors read and approved final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ubydul Haque or Philipp Blum.

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Supplement Figure S1

Monthly distribution of fatalities and casualties in Europe. (GIF 102 kb)

(TIF 38 kb)

Supplement Figure S2

Landslide associated with other disasters. (GIF 225 kb)

(TIF 201 kb)

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Haque, U., Blum, P., da Silva, P.F. et al. Fatal landslides in Europe. Landslides 13, 1545–1554 (2016).

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