This work introduces an unprecedented flash flood that resulted in nine casualties in Shimen Valley, China, 2015. Through field survey and numerical simulation the causes of the disaster are systematically analyzed, finding that the intense storm, terrain features, and the large woody debris (LWD) played important roles. The intense storm induced fast runoff and, in turn, high discharges as a result of the steep catchment surfaces and channels. The flood flushed LWD and boulders downstream until blockage occurred in a contraction section, forming a debris lake. When the debris dam broke, a dam break wave rapidly propagated to the valley mouth, washing people away. After considering the disaster-inducing factors, measures for preventing similar floods are proposed. The analysis presented herein should help others manage flash floods in mountain areas.

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