Late monsoon kills at least 50 after hitting Nepal

Heavy rains since Friday have caused floods, landslides and displaced thousands of people

A woman carrying a child is moved by rescue workers towards dry ground from a flooded colony in Kathmandu, Nepal July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rainfall have killed at least 50 people in Nepal in the past few days, with more deaths reported across the Himalayan border in India, officials said on Sunday.

At least 30 other people are missing in Nepal, either swept away by swollen rivers or buried by mudslides since delayed monsoon rains began pounding the region on Friday, Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre said.

The centre said nine major highways remained blocked by floods and mudslides and attempts were under way to open them up for traffic. Among them is the East-West Highway that connects the country’s southern districts.

Other roads were being cleared by thousands of police and soldiers, while workers were also repairing fallen communication towers to restore phone lines.

Continuing bad weather has grounded helicopter rescue flights.

Twenty-eight people have been treated for injuries and more than 1,100 others rescued from flooded areas. More than 10,000 people are estimated to have been displaced.

Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology warned of more troubles ahead in a flood warning for the southern region near the main rivers, urging people to keep watch on rising water levels and move to higher ground when needed.

Rain-triggered floods, mudslides and lightning have left a trail of death and destruction in other parts of South Asia.

In Bangladesh, at least a dozen people, mostly farmers in rural areas, have been killed by lightning since Saturday as monsoon rains continue to batter parts of the low-lying country.

Water Development Board official Rabiul Islam said about 40,000 people have been affected, mostly due to their homes being submerged underwater.

Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 160 million people with more than 130 rivers, is prone to monsoon floods because of overflowing rivers and the heavy rush of water from upstream India.

Officials in north-eastern India have reported at least a dozen people dead and more than a million affected by flooding.

The dead included two children who were buried when their boarding school collapsed as they slept in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh state.

Assam State Disaster Response Authority said about 900,000 people spread over 21 of the state’s 33 districts have had their homes submerged. Several thousand are sheltering in government-run relief camps.

Elsewhere in Assam, Kaziranga National Park, home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, has been flooded. The park is located 225 kilometres east of Guwahati, the state capital.

Floods and mudslides have also hit some other north-eastern states, including Meghalaya, Sikkim and Mizoram. In Mizoram, floods have submerged about 400 homes in the small town of Tlabung, police said.