Big Landslide Threat

Villagers are not taking any chances over a threat that a big landslide could bury their homes on Gau Island. Today Levuka-i-Gau elders are calling a meeting to decide on
04 Jan 2017 10:31
Big Landslide Threat
Effects of the landslide that occurred at Nakorolevu Mountain above Levuka-I-Gau Village on Gau Island in Lomaiviti Group. Photos: Inny Nukutubu

Villagers are not taking any chances over a threat that a big landslide could bury their homes on Gau Island.

Today Levuka-i-Gau elders are calling a meeting to decide on a plan of action.

One option is to evacuate to a safer site away from the danger zone.

Heavy rain triggered a big landslide that came down from Nakorolevu Mountain.

The avalanche of mud, boulders and debris destroyed everything in its path, including yaqona (kava), dalo, cassava farms, and other crops.

It also severely damaged the villagers’ only water source.

Fortunately, the landslide stopped at a valley, which prevented it from going over a cliff straight down to the village.

Villagers are worried that more heavy rain could push the landslide to the village.

Speaking for the first time about their ordeal, the village turaga-ni-koro (headman), Nikolau Nitidravu, said they would decide on the precautions that the villagers would take to keep safe.

“A village meeting will be held to plan properly about the next step we will take,” Mr Nitidravu said.

“The landslide happened on Friday at around 10pm. It was raining heavily and I believe the village came to a standstill when we heard a loud noise that sounded like a thunder striking in the middle of the night,” Mr Nitidravu said.

He said the landslide on the hill just above the village centre was massive and they had contacted relevant authorities.

“On Sunday morning, we saw the huge landslide on the hill. It was massive because I went and surveyed it myself with some villagers and we have contacted the relevant authorities such as our district representative about it.

“We are so lucky because there is a valley blocking the landslide from entering the village. If there is a huge downpour, then it will surely cover the village.

“We have been in close contact with them and we hope a Government team will come and survey it. No one has relocated from the village.”

Jonathan Smith, Captain of the Sere-ni-wai Ship, was travelling on the anchorage at the Nigali passage in Gau last December when he took a picture of a huge landslide that was big enough to bury the Levuka-i-Gau Village.

The village is located at the bottom of the mountain on the coast.

”From the looks of it, as I have seen it is going to affect the village if there will be more heavier rain and that will definitely cover the village,” he said.

“So I was thinking to let the appropriate authorities know so that the appropriate action can be taken to either evacuate or strengthen the wall or something. It is better to be proactive then to wait for something to happen.”

According to what he had seen, the mud had slid down and was being held back by the trees.

“I do not know who to contact and that is why I put it up on Facebook hoping that somebody would know someone who would know who to contact.

He said: “People in the village were aware of the dangers, but did  not know how to deal with it, nor who to contact in the Police Post to help them out.”

On the other hand, Luke Moroivalu, Commissioner of the Eastern Division said no houses had been affected.

“I am aware of the landslide. It is in the highlands.

“We are still trying to work out with the people on the ground on what would be the best option to do,” he said.

“We have to get the Ministry of Mineral Resources to come and have a look and determine the seriousness,” he said.

The Minister for Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, confirmed that a team from the ministry was at the island, but he was unsure when they had arrived.

“For the landslide they are doing a lot of work at the moment. The teams are visiting the place to do the checks,” he said

Edited by Jonathan Bryce



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