Thousands head back to their homes as Nepal river blocked by landslide flows again

This handout photograph released by Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs on May 24, 2015, shows an area in Nepal's Myagdi district affected by a landslide. Thousands of villagers have returned to their homes in quake-hit Nepal's mountainous north-west af
This handout photograph released by Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs on May 24, 2015, shows an area in Nepal's Myagdi district affected by a landslide. Thousands of villagers have returned to their homes in quake-hit Nepal's mountainous north-west after a river which was dammed by a landslide began flowing normally again, a local official said on Monday, May 25. -- PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Thousands of villagers have returned to their homes in quake-hit Nepal's mountainous north-west after a river which was dammed by a landslide began flowing normally again, a local official said on Monday.

The landslide late Saturday night had sent mud and rocks tumbling into the Kali Gandaki river in Myagdi district, creating a 2km-long artificial lake and sparking fears of flash flooding.

But officials said the debris had now been washed away by the force of the current and the river was flowing freely once more. "Over 15,000 people had left their homes fearing that the water would sweep them up," said district chief Tek Bahadur KC. "Now that the danger is over, they have started coming back to their homes."

No one was hurt in the landslide, but water submerged 26 houses along the river, which begins near the Nepal-China border and flows into northern India, eventually joining the Ganges.

The snow-fed waters are also the site of Nepal's largest hydroelectric project that generates 144 megawatts of power, located south of the landslide-blocked area.

Officials temporarily shut down the plant after the landslide but plan to resume operations later on Monday.

"Now that the river is flowing normally, we expect to start power generation by this evening," said Mr Tulasi Sapkota, the project's administrative chief.

The region has witnessed several small landslides in recent days, following a massive quake that struck Nepal on April 25, according to local officials.

Twin quakes have devastated Nepal in recent weeks, killing more than 8,600 people and leaving thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.