A major landslide at Llusco in the Cusco region of Peru back in March 2018 led to the destruction of over 100 houses, and the declaration of a state of emergency by the government. This state of emergency has been extended this July for two more months as the cracks are still widening and swallowing up pieces of the ground. Now, the cracks cover an area of more than 30 hectares but the ground remain extremely unstable and the size of the fractures between displaced blocks is quite remarkable. According to geologists more than a million cubic meters of earth and debris – enough to fill some 480 Olympic swimming pools – came down cracking up the town. Here a video showing how the city of Lutto Kututo in Peru was destroyed overnight by giant cracks in the ground:

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A loud noise like thunder woke Gregorio Abiega at about 3 o’clock in the morning on one of the first days of March 2018. Part of the ground of Lutto Kututo, the town where this 67-year-old man lives, had sunk and had been fissured by innumerable cracks. The surface area, equivalent to about 20 soccer fields, was fragmented into hundreds of uneven blocks, and separated by two to 38 meters deep cracks in the Earth.

Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru. via Youtube video
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru. via Youtube video
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru. via Youtube video

The first fissures appeared in 1998 in Lutto, but they were small. As they grew, authorities asked the villagers to fill them with rocks and dirt. But at the end of December 2017, when the landslide was imminent, they ordered the inhabitants to resettle in another place and gave them tents.

Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
A view from the top of the landslide that triggered the destruction and the cracking of the village below. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
A huge crater in the earth after the dramatic landslide that destroyed Lutto Kututo in Peru. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo

The early morning in which part of the town sank, people shouted, cried, ran for their lives. It was as if the Earth had brocken up in small pieces … Apocalyptic!

Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
The ground is so instable that it swallowed up many homes and infrastructures in this Peruvian village. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
The cracks are running through an surface area of more than 20 hectares. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo

Every year, Lutto receives heavy rains, especially from November to March. The water seeps into the soil, which in this village contains clay materials and is “highly fractured”. The humidity saturates the soil, which then moves massively, pulled by gravity.

Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
A huge crater in the earth after the dramatic landslide that destroyed Lutto Kututo in Peru. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo

The 106 families affected by the apocalyptical phenomenon now live about 15 minutes from the cracks, in small baracas made of plywood from the Civil Defense Institute of Peru. People do have electrical power, but they lack sewers and running water. Now, 5 months after the geological catastrophe, authorities are installing a water network.

Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
Now, residents are living in small baracas without running water. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo
Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru video, Giant cracks destroye a village in Peru pictures
It is very risky now to visit own buildings. Picture by VÍCTOR ZEA via BBC Mundo

In May, the government of Peru declared Lutto in emergency for 60 days and in July, extended the measure for two more months, to finish installing the missing devices. Meanwhile, landslides are still active, widening and cracking. The cracks are still alive, growing little by little… And the terrain will continue to fall.

A 3D model of the cracking landslide has been made by geologists using drones:

In many ways this landslide feels quite similar to the Seafront landslide (often known as the Cow Slide), triggered by the Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand, although officials argue it was caused by high pore water pressures, rather than by seismic activity. What do you think?

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BBC Mundo – “Fue como si se partiera la Tierra”: Lutto Kututo, el pueblo destruido por enormes grietas en Perú
El Commercio – Publican modelo 3D del deslizamiento en comunidad de Cusco | VIDEO
El Commercio – Cusco: usarán drones para evaluar daños en comunidad afectada por deslizamiento

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