Massive mine waste landslide at Kakanj, Bosnia

A massive mine waste landslide from an open pit coal mine occurred at Kakanj in Bosnia and Herzegovina last week, blocking a river and forcing 150 people to evacuate Friday, February 24, 2017.

The lake created by the landslide overflowed Saturday morning, February 25, following heavy overnight rain and forced the closure of a busy highway connecting the capital Sarajevo with the town of Zenica.

Civil protection officials said emergency crews have redirected drivers to alternative roads and were struggling to defuse the lake’s flooding threat by channeling its water into drainage ducts.

Landslide expert Dave Petley drew the boundaries of the mine waste landslide on the image below.

Kakanj landslide, Bosnia - February 2017

Kakanj landslide, Bosnia and Herzegovina – boundaries, February 2017. Credit: Googe, Dave Petley

“This is clearly a very large failure,” Petley said.  

“Rough measurements suggest something like 600 m [2 000 feet] in width and 800 m [2 600 feet] or more in length. If we assume an average depth of 20 m [65 feet], which may well be an underestimate, that would give a volume of about 10 million m3 [35.3 million ft3].”

“I am not sure that the existing landslide is the whole story at Kakanj,” he said.

“The video shows that further along the slope, towards the main valley, there is another rather large break in the road. I don’t know what this break represents, and I cannot speculate, but if I was investigating this slope I’d want to know. It could be unrelated. In the meantime, the site needs investigation and monitoring.”

Featured image: Landslide at Kakanj, BiH – February 2017. Credit: Dnevni Avaz

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