Nepal and India hit by deadly floods, landslides

Flood victims in Jhapa, Nepal, taking refuge in a tree from the rising waters as a soldier offered them a rope in a rescue effort on Sunday.
Flood victims in Jhapa, Nepal, taking refuge in a tree from the rising waters as a soldier offered them a rope in a rescue effort on Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS
A rhino swimming in flood waters in Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday. Animals are migrating in large herds to the hills.
A rhino swimming in flood waters in Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday. Animals are migrating in large herds to the hills.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Millions of Nepalis vulnerable as they are still living in huts and tents after quake last year; 2m homeless in Assam

KATHMANDU • More than 70 people have died in floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in Nepal, the government has said, while severe floods in India have affected two million people and buried hundreds of villages.

Nepal has been worst hit, with homes and bridges destroyed after days of torrential monsoon rains, although water levels were now slowing receding.

"Since Monday, 73 people have been killed in the floods and landslides," Home Ministry deputy spokesman Jhanka Nath Dhakal told AFP yesterday, increasing the death toll from Tuesday after the discovery of 15 more bodies.

"Our teams are working continuously in affected areas to search and rescue. We are also providing relief to the victims."

The worst-hit district was Pyuthan, 250km west of Kathmandu, where dozens of houses have been swept away.

Scores of people die every year from flooding and landslides during the monsoon rains in Nepal and neighbouring India.

The situation is particularly desperate this year because millions of Nepalis are still living in tents or makeshift huts after a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people last year.

Floods have also hit India's remote, north-eastern state of Assam, where 19 people have lost their lives mainly after rivers burst their banks in the last week, officials there said.

"An estimated two million people have been rendered homeless after the floods hit 3,000 villages in 21 districts," Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told journalists during a tour of hard-hit areas yesterday.

Thousands of those people were taking shelter in makeshift camps set up along highways and on higher ground, officials said.

Concerns were mounting for the safety of rare one-horned rhinos and other animals trying to flee Assam's famed Kaziranga National Park, which was also flooded.

"At least a dozen animals have drowned or been killed after being hit by cars while crossing the national highway to move towards the adjoining Karbi Anglong Hills," Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma told AFP.

"The park is completely submerged and all the animals are migrating in large herds to the hills," the minister said.

Kaziranga is home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhino population.

In Geneva, the UN meteorological agency said yesterday that the dry El Nino weather phenomenon, which was one of the most powerful on record, has ended. But it could be replaced by its stormy sister, La Nina, in the coming months.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Nepal and India hit by deadly floods, landslides'. Print Edition | Subscribe