KATHMANDU - The death toll from multiple landslides and flooding in Nepal climbed to at least 109 Saturday, with thousands of others displaced as heavy monsoon rains swept away houses, officials said.
Incessant rainfall also left some 1,500 people stranded in their waterlogged homes, waiting for helicopters to rescue them, said home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal. The monsoon rains have damaged roads across the country’s western plains bordering India, with poor visibility hindering helicopter rescue efforts.
‘At least 109 people have been killed in landslides and flooding over the last three days, 36 have suffered injuries and 75 are missing,’ Dhakal told AFP. ‘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 around 300 people on Saturday, while hundreds more waited for help in the worst-hit districts of Surkhet and Bardiya.
The rains have also forced officials to close a major bridge along the country’s longest highway after it developed cracks and caved in. The deaths come two weeks after the worst landslide in more than a decade slammed into hamlets in northeastern Nepal, killing 156 people. Scores of people die every year in floods and landslides during the monsoon season in the South Asian region. The Nepal deaths came as heavy downpours in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand triggered landslides and flooding that claimed at least 24 lives since early Friday, according to Indian officials.
‘More than 200 houses are destroyed while hundreds of other homes are completely under water,’ the government said. About 3,500 people have been rescued and housed in school and community buildings, official Punnya Dhakal said.
In 2010, British climate consultancy Maplecroft rated mostly mountainous Nepal along with Bangladesh, India, Madagascar and Mozambique as among most vulnerable to climate change impact over the next 30 years.
Experts say climate change was causing excessive or scant rains, droughts, floods and landslides.
Rains are crucial for impoverished Nepal, which depends on farming. But heavy downpours cause death and destruction every year. Early this month, a massive landslide near Kathmandu buried a village and killed 156 people. It blocked the Sunkoshi River forming a dangerous build up of water prompting authorities in Bihar in east India to evacuate thousands on flood fears. Last year, heavy rains flooded towns and villages, killing thousands in Uttarakhand in neighbouring India while dozens died in Kanchenpur and Darchula districts in west Nepal.