Planet Beyond Podcast

Landslides and slope stability

Employees working on drilling operation for Lung Cheug Road, Hong Kong


27 Jun 2024

At night on May 24, 2024, a devastating landslide hit the village of Yambali, in Papua New Guinea. It took a week for rescuers to just reach the site, with heavy rain, poor roads, and ongoing conflict hindering access. The same factors have made the scale of the devastation hard to assess, but reports suggest that hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their lives.

In this episode, we talk to two experts from Hong Kong on the risks landslides pose, and how they can be avoided. Jonathan Hart, of consultants GeoRisks Solutions, has been based in the territory since the late 1990s, and has worked on assessing slope stability around the world. He has worked in Papua New Guinea, and shares his experience of the vulnerable conditions that many in the country face.

But Papuans are not alone in facing these risks. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world. For much of the 20th century, it grew within tight constraints. With almost every inch of flat ground used, apartments and homes were built on steep slopes. And a series of terrible landslides have taken many hundreds of lives here too.

Jonathan is joined by Jesse Tam, associate director for Fugro in the territory, to discuss how, over decades, local regulators and industry experts have devised methods to assess the stability of slopes during project planning, and to mitigate the risks of landslides on older buildings. Landslides do not care for wealth or social class, and the lessons learned in Hong Kong are as important to anyone building a hillside mansion, as they are to those struggling for a safe home in informal settlements.


Jon Baston-Pitt, Fugro


Jonathan Hart, Director, GeoRisk Solutions

Jesse Tam, Associate Director, Fugro

Engineer onboard Fugro Galaxy

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