KATHMANDU: The death toll from landslides and flooding triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Nepal and northern India climbed to at least 77 yesterday as tides of water, mud and rocks swept away houses, officials said.
Incessant rains have displaced thousands of people in the scenic Himalayan region, reviving memories of a deadly deluge last year that killed more than 5,000 people in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and neighbouring Nepal.
Heavy downpours in Nepal over the past three days have left some 1,500 people stranded in waterlogged homes, waiting for rescue by helicopters, said home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.
The rains have damaged roads across the country’s western plains bordering India, with poor visibility hindering helicopter rescue efforts.
“At least 53 people have been killed in landslides and flooding over the last three days, 36 have suffered injuries and 75 are missing,” Dhakal said. “Because of the damage to roads in the area, we can only deliver relief supplies like tents and medicines by helicopter,” he said.
Army officials rescued some 300 people yesterday, while hundreds more awaited in the worst-hit districts of Surkhet and Bardiya, where electricity lines snapped, leaving thousands without power.
“We have had no power all day and we are struggling to reach affected people,” said Bardiya district official Tej Prasad Paudel.
In neighbouring Banke district, flooding caused by heavy rain washed away homes, district official Jeevan Oli said.
“We’ve recovered four bodies, including two children. We’re looking for four more people whose hut was swept away last night,” Oli said.
The deaths come two weeks after the worst landslide in over a decade smashed into hamlets in northeastern Nepal, killing 156 people. Monsoon rains have also forced officials to close a major bridge along the country’s longest highway after it developed cracks and caved in.
Meanwhile, heavy downpours in neighbouring India triggered landslides and flooding that claimed at least 24 lives since Friday, according to government officials.
In Uttarakhand state, seven people were killed in their sleep by a landslide as monsoon rains pounded the region this week.