Elephants save hundreds in Nepal floods

A flooded area in Birgunj Parsa district, some 200km south of Kathmandu, on Sunday. The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Nepal rose to 70 yesterday.
A flooded area in Birgunj Parsa district, some 200km south of Kathmandu, on Sunday. The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Nepal rose to 70 yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KATHMANDU • Elephants helped rescue hundreds of tourists from a flooded jungle safari park in Nepal, officials said yesterday, as the death toll from flash floods and landslides after four days of heavy rain rose to 70.

The Rapti River overflowed its banks in Sauraha, 80km south of Kathmandu, inundating hotels and restaurants and leaving some 600 tourists stranded.

Sauraha, on the fringe of Chitwan National Park, is home to 605 rhinoceroses and is popular with foreign tourists, mainly for rhino watching and elephant rides.

"Some 300 guests were rescued on elephant backs and tractor trailers to (nearby) Bharatpur yesterday and the rest will be taken to safer places today," Mr Suman Ghimire, head of a group of Sauraha hotel owners, said yesterday.

Floods have also swept the nearby Indian state of Assam in the past two days, killing at least 15 people and displacing nearly 2.3 million, officials said.

Nearly 90 per cent of Assam's Kaziranga National Park, home to the world's largest population of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, was under water, Forest Minister Pramilla Rani Brahma said. They have moved to higher ground.

In Nepal, relief workers said 26 of the country's 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides after heavy rain.

The death toll was expected to rise with another 50 people reported missing, Information and Communications Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet said. He added that more than 60,000 homes were under water, mainly in the southern plains bordering India.

Large swathes of farmland in the southern plains, Nepal's breadbasket, are under water and the country could face food shortages due to crop losses, aid workers said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Elephants save hundreds in Nepal floods'. Print Edition | Subscribe