PETALING JAYA: Malaysia sits among the top 10 countries that had a high number of landslides over the past decade.
According to data from the US National Aeronautics Space Administration (Nasa), Malaysia had 171 landslides between 2007 and March 2016, making the country ranked the 10th highest in frequency of landslides.
Ranked first is the United States (2,992), followed by India (1,265) and China (426).
Titled the Global Landslide Catalog (GLC), the one-of-its-kind dataset was compiled based on online and media reports, and scientific journals since 2007.
The Star analysed the dataset and found that the number of landslides have been increasing in Malaysia, almost with each year, reaching a peak of 33 occurrences in 2014.
On average, in the past 10 years, Malaysia experienced 18.5 landslides annually.
The high number of landslides means that Malaysia ranked 5th for landslides per square kilometre among countries that have a land area greater than 100,000sq km.
Nepal is the country with the highest number of landslides per square kilometre, followed by the Philippines, Britain and Guatemala.
Most of Malaysia’s landslides occur between October and January, which coincides with the months with the highest rainfall. This is according to data on average monthly rainfall between 1991 and 2015 from the World Bank.
Sabah leads with the most number of landslides (42), followed by Kuala Lumpur (26), Sarawak (25), Selangor (22) and Penang (14).
Latitude and longitude data point towards certain areas that landslides commonly occur. These include Ranau in Sabah, Ringlet in Cameron Highlands, Bukit Antarabangsa in Selangor and Tanjung Bungah in Penang.
Nasa’s satellite view showed that most landslide occurrences in Malaysia are packed around the peninsula’s west coast, and Sabah and Sarawak.
Hardly any red dots could be seen in the Kalimantan region, south of Sabah and Sarawak, which could indicate that the landslides are caused by over-development.
Based on Nasa’s GLC website, since 2007, it has recorded some 10,000 landslides around the world, leading to more than 20,000 deaths, mostly in South-East Asia.
Data on Malaysia showed that most landslide fatalities are in Kuala Lumpur (18), followed by Pahang (17) and Selangor (eight).
The GLC project, first published in 2010, was to provide scientists with a dataset to analyse how, why and where landslides are likely to occur.
It remains the largest publicly available repository of global landslides.
According to the Meteorological Department, the country will be experiencing the northeast monsoon until the end of March, with heavy rains forecast along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, eastern Johor and Pahang.
A higher than average rainfall level of between 250mm and 350mm is also forecast for certain places in Sabah such as Kudat and Sandakan. In Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, Bintulu and Kapit are forecast to receive an average rainfall level that exceeds 500mm.
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