The Tragic Landslide on Highway 3 in Taiwan in 2010
In August 2010, a severe landslide struck Taiwan’s Highway 3, a mountainous section of road that connects the central and eastern parts of the island.
The disaster occurred in the village of Xiaolin, in the Kaohsiung municipality, and claimed the lives of hundreds of people, leaving the region in the wake of one of the deadliest natural disasters in Taiwan’s history. The event was not only tragic but also sparked discussions on the impact of human settlements around the world, and how human intervention can contribute to natural disasters.
The reason for the landslide was the heavy rainfall that accumulated over a couple of days, causing the unstable rocks and earth on the slopes to shift and come free.
The disaster was inevitable due to the massive amount of human encroachment, such as housing construction and road building that occurred in the past decades. These activities caused the mountain terrain to lose much of its integrity, making it more susceptible to natural disasters, including landslides, and soil erosion.
The disastrous landslide caused a heavy toll, causing immense casualties and economic loss. At least 700 people died or disappeared, and around 1280 people lost their homes, with many more suffering from other types of damage such as land-slipped soil and damaged infrastructures.
The Kaohsiung City government estimates the cost of the disaster to be over NT $ 9.69 billion dollars, with the disaster also causing significant economic harm to the entire region. The disaster’s scale and complexity required many interventions by rescue workers, and the situation highlighted the need for more effective disaster response mechanisms in the country.
In response, the Taiwanese government initiated new safety measures to prevent similar disasters in the future, including zoning over unstable slope areas, introducing site safety audits, and installing automated monitoring systems.
The Kaohsiung City government also made critical investments in geotechnical analysis and monitoring, which has been vital in providing real-time information and warnings of potential disasters.
The Highway 3 landslide disaster remains one of the deadliest landslides in Taiwan’s history, sparking discussions on the impact of human activities on the environment and highlighting the need for a more sustainable and nature-friendly approach to development practices.
Human activity is often the root cause of many environmental issues, including natural disasters like landslides, floods, and droughts. The solution lies in finding a balance between development and conservation, acknowledging the need for human settlements while safeguarding the natural environment.
The Highway 3 landslide in Taiwan in 2010 represents a reminder of the impact of human intervention on the environment, and provides an opportunity to rethink our approach to development. The disaster has left a lasting impression on Taiwan’s history, and lessons can be learned from the response to the disaster, including improvements in safety measures and disaster response mechanisms.