The wreckage of a passenger bus lies on its side after the
landslide. REUTERS/Dipesh Shrestha
Authorities in eastern India have begun evacuating
thousands of villagers after efforts to clear a deadly
landslide in neighbouring Nepal sparked fears of flash floods
downstream, government officials say.
The landslide, triggered by heavy rains in Nepal's
Sindhupalchowk district, killed at least nine people and
buried dozens of homes. More than 100 people are believed
The slide has also created a mud dam blocking the Sunkoshi
river, which runs into India's Bihar state as the Kosi river.
Indian officials said water levels were already above the
danger mark. They feared that as Nepal blasts through the
landslide to clear it, a torrent of water could be unleashed
inundating hundreds of Bihar's villages.
"We are repeatedly appealing to villagers settled along the
Kosi embankments to flee to safer places as soon as
possible," the principal secretary in Bihar's disaster
management department, Vyasji, who goes only by one name,
"The blasting of blockage in river could result in a 10-metre
high wall of water sweeping down Kosi into Bihar which could
bring trouble," he added.
The Kosi river remains a key concern for both India and Nepal
after it broke its banks in 2008 and changed its course,
submerging swathes of land and affecting more than two
million people in Bihar. More than 500 people died.
The Nepal army said they had started opening the dam by
setting off two controlled blasts and water had started to
drain out slowly.
But Indian authorities are taking no chances and have put
eight districts under flood alert, and begun evacuations in
the districts of Supaul, Madhubani and Saharsa.
Sluice gates at a barrage along the Kosi at the Indo-Nepal
border have been opened, rescue teams deployed and over 200
boats sent out to evacuate villagers, said senior officials.
DEATH TOLL MAY RISE
In Nepal, nine bodies were recovered from the debris of
dozens of collapsed houses and search and rescue operations
were under way.
Police warned the death toll was likely to rise further.
"More than 100 people may still be missing as 50-60 houses
are buried according to the accounts of the local people," a
police spokesman told Reuters.
Survivors said the mishap happened while they were asleep.
"Everything started falling all of a sudden. I had not seen
such a disaster before," Durga Lal Shrestha, who was injured
in the landslide, told Reuters TV from his hospital bed in
Television channels showed part of a forested hill that
collapsed and blocked the river.
Witnesses said mud and rocks came crashing down, blocking the
river and creating a 3 km-long lake that has inundated part
of the Arniko highway that connects Kathmandu with Tibet.
Residents in downstream villages have also been asked to
evacuate as the mud dam could collapse at any time.
"The landslide has caused huge damage. We cannot make any
estimates of the number of deaths now. We are looking for
other people who might be trapped," police officer Bharat
Bahadur Bohara told Reuters from the site.
Monsoon rains that start in mid-June and continue through
September are crucial for many countries in South Asia. Yet
scores of people die every year in landslides and floods.
Heavy rains in June last year caused rivers and lakes to
burst their banks, killing almost 6,000 people in the Indian
state of Uttarakhand.