Friday 31 October 2014

180 dead in Nepal monsoon floods

Published 18/08/2014 | 08:11

Nepalese villagers carry their belongings while wading through a flooded street to move to safer ground in Bardia (AP)
Villagers living along the Kosi River close to the Nepal border sit in a tractor as they move to safer places at Birpur in Supaul disrict of Bihar state, India (AP)

Authorities in Nepal and neighbouring India have sent food, medical supplies and tents to areas where monsoon floods have displaced thousands and killed at least 180 people in recent days.

Four helicopters with relief supplies and medical workers were sent to cut-off villages in western Nepal, Jhanka Nath Dhakal of the National Emergency Operation Centre said. Most roads into the area are submerged or damaged by flooding, preventing vehicles from passing.

Thousands of people are without shelter in 10 flooded districts, and local officials have distributed rice and lentils and cooking pots to people who lost their homes. The area is mainly farmland where the poor live in mud and straw huts that wash away easily.

At least 100 people have died in Nepal since Thursday, and at least 84 have died in neighbouring India due to torrential rains or overflowing rivers after dams were opened in Nepal, authorities said.

In northern India, at least 50 people have died in Uttarakhand state, many of them washed away as rivers overflowed, submerging villages and fields. Officials in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state reported 10 more deaths overnight, pushing its toll to 34.

People in the worst-affected villages were being evacuated to relief camps set up in government and school buildings, said a government official in Uttar Pradesh.

State authorities said paramilitary soldiers in some 400 boats were helping to evacuate people from their homes after entire villages were marooned in northern Uttar Pradesh.

Several rivers overflowed after water was released from dams in Nepal, the official said.

Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appealed to both and domestic and foreign agencies to help flood victims there. The main opposition party in Parliament, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, disrupted parliamentary proceedings and demanded that the government declare a national emergency.

Mr Dhakal said the government was trying to send medical teams and supplies to prevent diseases such as cholera that can follow flooding. They are also distributing tents and plastic sheets to make temporary shelters, utensils to cook food and clothes for those who lost their belongings.

The June-September monsoon season often brings flooding to Nepal and India. The rains caused a landslide earlier this month that covered an entire village near Kathmandu, killing 156 people.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through Uttarakhand state during the monsoon season. Heavy deforestation over the last few decades has made the area more vulnerable to landslides.

Press Association

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