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8 killed as landslide hits Nepal

PTI 02 Aug 2014, 23:50:03 PM IST
Kathmandu:  At least eight persons were killed today in a massive landslide that blocked Sunkoshi river in northeast Nepal, turning the river into a grand lake with rescuers resorting to controlled blasts to drain the water posing a risk of flash floods.

A huge hill had suddenly collapsed at 2am (local time), burying 40 homes before dumping mud and stones into the Sunkoshi river at Mankha village in Sindhupal chowk district, 75 km northeast of the capital Kathmandu, police spokesperson Ganesh K C said.

After the river was blocked by the landslide, a big pond was created in the area and the people residing in the nearby villages ran away to safer places fearing for their lives.  Eight bodies were recovered during a joint rescue operation carried out by army and police with the help of the local people, the official said.

A special team of the Nepal Army used explosives to break the dam like structure created due to the landslide and the river started to flow on its normal course, according to sources in the Nepal Army headquarters.  

Three such explosions had been carried out to broaden the course that the water made on its own after coming up to the top of debris, deposited by the landslides, and started overflowing, The Himalayan Times reported.  

The river, blocked for more than 11 hours, swelled and formed a big lake inundating areas upstream and posing a threat of flash floods.

Nepal Army personnel evacuated 17 injured people from the site of the landslide with three of them taken to the capital for treatment on a helicopter to the capital for medical treatment.

The artificial lake formed in the area is estimated to be 2.5 km long with 130 metre depth.

Around 100 houses were submerged in the area.  All the people from adjoining villages were shifted to safer places.

The army is conducting a search operation for the missing persons. Dozens of people might have gone missing in the incident.

The Sunkoshi river was totally blocked and the water was going everywhere in the village including the Araniko Highway that connects Kathmandu with Tibet. Water level in the river has been increasing.

High alert has been sounded and locals are being evacuated. Sixteen people were rescued from the area. An army chopper has been deployed to intensify the rescue work.  

With the danger of flood also looming large in the Kosi belt along Bihar-Nepal border, the Bihar government has put its personnel on alert, ordered evacuation of people inhabiting the embankment area and also sought help from the Army.