Over 70 killed in Nepal, India monsoon onslaught
Officials fear that figure could almost double as rescuers search for dozens believed lost under mud and in submerged village
Kathmandu, Nepal - Monsoon floods and landslides have killed at least 66 people across Nepal and India but officials fear that figure could almost double as rescuers search for dozens believed lost under mud and in submerged villages.
Authorities on Sunday upgraded the death toll from flash flooding across landlocked Nepal to 49 as the water kept rising, forcing thousands to flee for higher ground.
“Another 17 are missing. Search and rescue works are underway but the water levels have not declined yet,” said Shankar Hari Acharya, the chief of Nepal’s national emergency centre.
The Red Cross estimated a higher death toll of 53, with dozens more missing and injured and thousands of homes destroyed.
Buses swept into gorge in India
In neighbouring India, rescuers were desperately trying to reach two packed buses swept into a gorge by a landslide so powerful it destroyed an entire stretch of highway.
The coaches had stopped for a tea break around midnight on Saturday in Himachal Pradesh when tonnes of rock and mud cascaded down a mountainside.
Seventeen bodies have been recovered from the accident site in the Himalayan state, said Sandeep Kadam, a senior official at the scene.
But dozens were still missing somewhere at the bottom of the ravine, with soldiers and rescuers clawing through the mud and rock to reach them.
“Around 200m of national highway washed away with two buses and more than 50 feared buried,” said Col Aman Anand, an Indian army spokesman helping coordinate rescue efforts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his condolences and prayers for those affected by the accident.
‘Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide-related accidents in HP’s Mandi district’, he posted on Twitter, using the acronym for Himachal Pradesh state.
The disaster followed days of heavy rain, which loosens the soil on steep hillsides and threatens villages at the foot of mountains every monsoon season.
An aircraft is parked on the flooded apron of a domestic airport after heavy rains, in Biratnagar, Nepal, on Saturday