KATHMANDU, August 15 : The death toll from floods and landslides across the country has risen to 111, Home Minister Janardan Sharma told parliament on Tuesday, as authorities continue search for nearly three dozen people who remain missing.
Incessant rains for the past four days have wreaked havoc in parts of the eastern, central and western tarai affecting around 6 million people and damaging property worth billions of rupees.
Home Minister Sharma, who leads a panel formed to assess the damage, told parliament Tuesday that the true extent of damage caused by the floods and landslides has yet to be ascertained. MoHA officials said the number of displaced families is likely to exceed 100,000.
"Initials figures collected till Tuesday show the number of displaced households might cross 100,000. If we are to include the submerged houses, the number would be much higher than that," said a MoHA official. The floods have particularly affected paddy, the main cereal crop in the tarai, which is known as food basket of Nepal.
Sharma, who on Tuesday spent a few hours at the Tribhuvan Internanational Airport to inspect smooth delivery and transpiration of aid and relief materials amid criticism of delayed relief and rehabilitation work, told lawmakers that the rescue and relief teams have reached all the affected areas and begun distribution of aid and relief materials including food, water, clothes, tarps and medicines.
"Work has started to provide food, clothes, utensils and makeshift shelters to the affected families," said Minister Sharma, adding that the government would distribute separate relief packages to the displaced households and families of deceased after the completion of preliminary damage assessment.
Although the rescue and relief operation started since Friday, security forces were facing difficulties reaching inundated areas cut off from communication and road facilities.
The government has mobilized around 26,700 people for rescue operations in the affected areas, including 8,300 trained security personnel. Similarly, around 5,600 personnel of the Nepal Police, 1,700 from the Armed Police Force and 1,000 from Nepal Army have been deployed.
"The rescue teams have finally reached the areas that were previously inaccessible as they were cut off due to the floods. The rescue and relief teams have finally reached those areas and begun their work," said Ram Krishna Subedi, MoHA spokesperson.
In a statement, Nepal Army has said that its rescue teams have been working to repair and rebuild roads and airports damaged by the floods. Some places still remain cut off from communications and transportation facilities.
NA has so far evacuated nearly 8,000 people from the floods, while providing relief material to several other affected people.