Nepal Landslide Leaves Dozens Feared Dead

Nepal Landslide Leaves Dozens Feared Dead

Nepal Landslide Leaves Dozens Feared Dead

Nepal Landslide Leaves Dozens Feared Dead

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A landslide caused in part by unusually heavy rain in a district of Nepal bordering China buried dozens of homes early Friday, killing at least 11 people and leaving 27 others missing, officials said.

Shreedhar Neupane, a press adviser to the speaker of Nepal’s House of Representatives, said on Friday that 38 people in the village of Lidi were believed to have been buried in the landslide. “The army has been retrieving dead bodies,” Mr. Neupane said.

He said that 11 bodies had been recovered so far, and that five critically injured people had been airlifted to Kathmandu, the capital. Thirty-seven homes in the village, which consists of about 150 houses built on a steep slope, were buried, and a few were swept away, Mr. Neupane said.

Soldiers, police officers, paramilitaries and local residents were mobilized for the rescue operation. The House speaker, Agni Prasad Sapkota, accompanied rescue personnel to the village by helicopter.

Remote, hilly regions of Nepal, a small Himalayan nation between India and the Tibetan region of China, are often plagued by landslides during the monsoon season, which starts in June and lasts until September.

But officials said that both the amount of rain and the death toll from landslides so far this season had been unprecedented. Nearly 200 people are known to have been killed this year, with more than 40 missing.

The district of Sindhupalchok, which includes Lidi, sees frequent landslides. It was one of the worst-hit areas in the devastating quake of April 2015, which killed more than 8,700 people in Nepal; of those deaths, 3,440 were in Sindhupalchok. Some of the 37 homes lost in the landslide Friday had been rebuilt after the 2015 quake.

Disaster officials in Nepal say that landslides have become more common in Sindhupalchok since the 2015 quake, which they say destabilized the delicate local geography. The use of heavy equipment to build roads to remote villages has contributed to the problem, officials say.

This season’s severe rainfall has made matters worse, officials said. “But we cannot just blame nature — the way we developed our infrastructures, particularly roads in quake-destabilized fragile landscapes, is causing frequent cases of landslides,” said Anil Pokhrel, chief executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority.

Adding to the problem, Mr. Pokhrel said, is that people in hilly regions like Sindhupalchok tend to grow rice, which requires more water than crops like maize or barley, leading to soil erosion.

He said Nepal would continue to see a high death toll from landslides if people in high-risk settlements like Lidi were not relocated.


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