August 13, 2017 03:32 AM NPT
1. A collapsed section of the East-West Highway in Nawalparasi, 2. A Saptari local with children wades through an inundated area and 3. The inundated Biratnagar Airport.
KATHMANDU, Aug 12: Continuous monsoon rains for the past two days have triggered floods and landslides across the country, killing at least 30 people and displacing thousands of families. Nearly a dozen people have gone missing since Friday in various districts across the country, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Most of the rivers, including big ones like the Saptakoshi, Narayani, Babai and Rapti, have risen above the danger level. At least one airport has suspended operations, affecting thousands of passengers. Normal vehicular movement has been affected in many places, including the Narayanghat-Butwal section of the East-West Highway.
Our reporters on the ground said the rains have also affected regular communications and prompted power cuts in various districts of the eastern and western regions.
Talking to reporters on Saturday, Home Minister Janardan Sharma said he was coordinating closely with the authorities in affected districts to ensure timely rescue and relief for survivors.
According to official figures, at least 30 people have died since Friday, including in Jhapa (4), Morang (3), Sunsari (7), Sindhuli (4), Panchhthar (3), and Banke (3). Similarly, one death each was recorded in Bara, Sarlahi, Dang, Saptari, Palpa and Bardiya. Officials said the toll might be higher as many areas remain cut off.
Experts warn of more natural disasters as many place have been witnessing incessant rains for the second straight day. Scores of rivers have swollen above the danger line, posing a threat to adjacent settlements.
People in some settlement along rivers like the Saptakoshi, Babai, Bakaiya, Bagmati, Narayani, Rapti and Tinau have been alerted or relocated.
Biratnagar airport was shut after the runway became inundated. Some places along the Narayanghat-Butwal highway were damaged, affecting thousands. Traffic on the Muglin-Narayanghat section, which is under repair, has also been suspended in view of possible landslides.
The government has come under criticism for lack of preparedness and delayed response to the natural calamity. Many survivors in Jhapa, Banke, Panchhthar are still awaiting relief. Rescuers have not been able to reach several areas where people are in urgent need of relief and rehabilitation.
Home Minister Sharma said the government has already deployed security personnel to help the survivors in affected areas.
"Security forces had been kept on high alert even before the disaster started unfolding. While we have dispatched food, clothing, medicines and tents to some affected areas, we are facing some difficulty sending the relief items to other places," said Sharma.