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Mudslides: Causes and Effects

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Living in Bangladesh, we have seen quite disastrous mudslides from the past few years. Mudslide is also called a landslide or a land slip. It is a downward mass movement of earth or rock on unstable slopes, including many forms resulting from differences in rock structure, coherence of material involved, degree of slope, amount of included water, extent of natural or artificial undercutting at the base of the slope, relative rate of movement, and relative quantity of material involved. There are numerous facts that can cause a mudslide and there are also numerous effects that it can cause us.

Mudslides usually occur in hilly areas, for an example, when there was a mudslide in Bangladesh few months back, it occurred at Chittagong. Mudslides occur when a portion of a hill side becomes too weak to hold up its own weight. This is generally caused by an intense amount of rain fall. With all of the new water introduced into the slope the content of liquid makes it so heavy that gravity pulls it downward. Although water plays a major factor in creating the mud that flows in a mudslide the real reason that the land begins to slide is gravity. What happens is mudslides redistribute soil and sediments in a process that can be in abrupt collapses or in slow gradual slides.

Some other factors in causing mudslides are earthquakes, slope failures, heavy storms. All of the natural causes of mudslides are not nearly as bad as the human made causes such as grading terrain cutting, and excessive development. Over development especially in hilly areas can cause mudslides that are dangerous.

Hundreds of people die each year from the effects of mudslides. Health hazards are one of the main effects of mudslides. Rapid moving water and wreckage lead to trauma for the sufferers. Clogged drainages can also cause spread of diseases. Broken electrical, water, gas, and sewage lines can result in injury or illness.

Environmental hazards arise as well from hazardous materials and waste. Hazardous materials concerns could arise from spills of gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, or solvents from containers or vehicles. Spills could contaminate soils or leach into ground or surface water. And environmental hazards could adversely affect humans, wild life, vegetation and water supply.

Electrical hazards could include vegetation or equipment fires, electrical burns, or electrocutions to humans or animals. Electrical hazards could take place anywhere near energized conductors or facilities. These hazards are primarily a concern for construction and maintenance workers.

Communication could also be at stake when a mudslide occurs. Because the flow of mud covers the roads and railways, help can be difficult to be brought into the neediest areas affected. Disrupted roadways and railways can endanger motorists and disrupt transport and access to health care.

Victims of mudslides often lose their homes and even their loved ones to the thick flow of mud. The scenes from the damage are painful to observe. Mudslides leave disastrous effects on the sufferers. In Bangladesh, when the mudslide occurred at Chittagong on the month of June 2007, hundreds of people suffered death and loses of their family and homes.

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