PATNA/KATHMANDU: More than 400,000 people in eastern India face the risk of flooding after a landslide that killed at least nine people in neighbouring Nepal, an Indian government official said yesterday, as thousands were being evacuated.
The landslide triggered by heavy rains has left scores of people missing and has created a mud dam blocking the Sunkoshi river, which runs into India’s Bihar state as the Kosi river.
The fear is that as Nepal tries to blast its way through the landslide to clear it, it will unleash a torrent of water across densely populated Bihar.
Around 425,000 people could be affected by the floods and authorities have already evacuated 44,000 across seven districts of Bihar, said Ashok Kumar, an officer at the state’s disaster management unit.
“We are shifting people from the area where the water is expected to reach,” Kumar said. He added that 117 relief camps have been set up in the region so far.
In some places the authorities have had to force people to leave their homes, said S S Guleria, deputy inspector general at the National Disaster Response Force. “Many are unwilling to leave their homes, but we are trying to evacuate them by force, keeping in view the impending troubles,” Guleria said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Kathmandu to speed up negotiations on a power trade pact, has expressed concern over the situation in Bihar and said all possible assistance should be made available.
The home ministry said in a statement that while the amount of water that had flowed downstream so far was not alarming, the flow could increase suddenly at any time.
Indian government officials said on Saturday that water levels were already above the danger mark.