Terrawatch While heavy rain can precipitate a landslide, such an event often has its roots in an earthquake that loosened rock and earth along mountain ridges

Just over a week ago, the village of Xinmo, in the Sichuan province of China, was completely wiped off the map by a massive landslide.

Torrential rain in the region loosened 8m cubic metres of rubble (equivalent in mass to more than 3,000 Olympic swimming pools) and, about 5.45am local time on Saturday 24 June, it thundered down the hillside, burying about 62 homes and claiming more than 120 lives. The intense rain was almost certainly the trigger, but the hillside has probably been poised to slip for decades.

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