JHAPA, Aug 12: Floods and landslides triggered by excessive rain claimed 20 lives in the eastern districts of the country on Friday and Saturday. As of Saturday evening, eight deaths have been reported from Sunsari, four from Morang, four from Sindhuli, two from Jhapa and one each from Tehrathum and Panchthar districts.
The toll is higher if deaths in other parts of the country are included. According to Republica daily district correspondents, the total number of deaths has reached 30 across the country in the past two days alone.
Floods have badly affected Saptari, Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa in the eastern region, while Taplejung, Panchthar, Terhathum and Sindhuli have also suffered extensive damage to life and property from landslides.
Dozens are still missing and thousands have been displaced. It is learnt that rescue work has been hindered due to continuous rain and difficult conditions. As of now, relief distribution is a far cry.
With seven deaths, Itahari has sustained the highest human casualty. Various areas of the district suffered inundation after heavy rainfall Friday night. The bodies of the seven dead were recovered from various localities Saturday, according to Eastern Regional Area Police Office, Biratnagar.
The deceased in Itahari have been identified as eight-year-old Rupsani Rai, daughter of Maya Rai of Gaurigaun; three-year-old Rupesh Rai; Ishwar Sunuwar of Aaitabare, Itahari-4; Mala Shah, 30, of Gaurigaun; Mala's son 10-year-old Siti Shah, and an 80-year-old of Itahari-20 and a 35-year-old woman whose identities are yet to be ascertained.
In Morang, three have died in the flooding while four others remain missing. The deceased have been identified as Gopi Maya Tamang, 35, of Letang Municipality-1; Ganga Ram Khatiwada, 32, of Miklajung Rural Municipality-2; and Meen Bahadur Thapa, 56, of Kerabari Rural Municipality-9, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Yogendra Singh, who is also spokesperson of District Police Office (DPO), Morang.
Besides two dead and eight missing, 1,111 families have become displaced by flooding in Jhapa district. Kamala Ghorsaney of Jhapa Rural Municipality-2 and Bijay Pandey of Shivasaktashi Municipality-1 perished after being washed away by the Kankai and Jhiljhiley Rivers respectively.
According to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ramesh Kumar Bhattarai, chief of Eastern Regional Police Office, they are still collecting the details of the damage. “We are having problems carrying out rescue operations as floods and landslides have struck in many places at once,” he said, informing that almost all parts of the tarai have been inundated.
Landslides and floods have obstructed vehicular movement along the East-West Highway and the Dharan-Dhankuta section of Koshi Highway. Likewise, Biratnagar airport is under three to four feet of water. Domestic flights in many affected areas have remained halted.
The calamity has also cut off electricity and obstructed telephone lines and other vital services. Although a helpline has been set up and shared in social media, the authorities said there has been delay in relief and rescue work.
DIG Bhattarai further informed that Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army personnel have been mobilized to carry out rescue operations.
In the mid-eastern districts, six lives have been lost, including four in Sindhuli, and one each in Terhathum and Panchthar. Three more people are missing and dozens of households remain displaced in Panchthar. The landslides have also swept away a 13-MW hydropower plant in Terhathum.
“We are faced with a massive disaster,” said Mayor Shiva Prasad Dhakal of Sundarharaicha, Morang. “The government should jump into action without further delay.”