109 killed and scores missing as storms cause landslides in Nepal
The death toll from landslides and flooding triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Nepal and northern India climbed to at least 109 yesterday as tides of water, mud and rocks swept away houses.
Incessant rain has 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 had left 1,500 people stranded in waterlogged homes, waiting for rescue by helicopters, said Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.
The rain has damaged roads across the country's western plains bordering India, with poor visibility hindering helicopter rescue efforts.
"Because of the damage to roads in the area, we can only deliver relief supplies like tents and medicines by helicopter," Dhakal said.
National disaster management chief Yadav Prasad Koirala said: "We have recovered 85 bodies so far, 54 people have suffered injuries due to landslides and flooding over the last three days and 113 are still missing."
Army officials rescued 300 people yesterday, while hundreds more awaited in the worst-hit districts of Surkhet and Bardiya, where electricity lines snapped, leaving thousands without power.
The deaths come two weeks after the worst landslide in over a decade smashed into hamlets in northeastern Nepal, killing 156.
Monsoon rain has 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 have claimed at least 24 lives since Friday. In Uttarakhand state, seven were killed in their sleep by a landslide as monsoon rain pounded the hilly region this week.