At Least 17 Dead In Nepal Bus Accident

 

At least 17 people, including seven children, died when a crowded bus swerved off the road and plunged into a river in central Nepal on Sunday, officials said.

The bus skidded off the road in Sindhupalchowk district, northwest of the capital Kathmandu, and plunged 50 metres (165 feet) down into the Sunkosi River.

“So far, 17 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are injured,” district official Goma Devi Chemjong told AFP, adding that 48 others, including the driver, were injured and undergoing treatment.

Local rafters assisted the police and the army to scour the river and rescue any survivors, but some passengers are still feared missing.

“The number of missing is unknown as the bus had no record of the total number of passengers,” Chemjong said

Authorities have not yet confirmed the cause of the crash.

Deadly crashes are relatively common in the impoverished Himalayan nation because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

Last month, 11 people died and more than 100 were injured when another bus plunged into a river.

AFP

At Least 50 Dead In Nepal’s Monsoon

A Nepali resident takes shelter after the Balkhu River overflowed following monsoon rains at the Kalanki area of Kathmandu on July 12, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

 

Floods and landslides caused by torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 50 people across Nepal while dozens more are missing, officials said Sunday.

Northeast India has also been hit by floods with 11 deaths recorded as rivers burst their banks.

Heavy rains since Thursday have hit several districts in Nepal, especially in the country’s eastern region and the southern plains, affecting thousands.

Nepal police spokesman Bishwaraj Pokharel said 33 people are missing while over 1,100 people have been rescued.

“We have mobilised all resources in the country for search, rescue and relief and have been able to reach all affected areas,” Pokharel told AFP.

READ ALSO: Major 7.3 Earthquake Hits Eastern Indonesia

Authorities said river levels are expected to return to normal from Monday.

Monsoon rains from June to September cause widespread death and destruction across South Asia each year.

In India at least 11 people have died in the country’s northeast, officials said, with some 20,000 being housed in relief camps in badly-hit Assam state.

In Bangladesh, aid groups were providing rations to Rohingya refugees in the southeast of the country with the UN World Food Programme saying Friday that two people including a child had died.

Last year, more than 1,200 people were been killed across South Asia in monsoon storms, with India’s Kerala suffering its worst floods in nearly 100 years.

AFP

Ex-UN Official Jailed For Child Abuse In Nepal

 

A former UN official has been jailed for sexually abusing children in Nepal, officials said Tuesday, following a trial underscoring the country’s growing appeal for foreign paedophiles.

Peter John Dalglish, 62, from Canada, a formerly high-profile humanitarian worker, was sentenced on Monday to two terms of nine and six years in two cases after being convicted last month.

Thakur Trital, a district court official, told AFP that Dalglish had been sentenced for nine years for abusing a 12-year-old boy and seven years jail for molesting another 14-year-old.

READ ALSO: China Asks US To ‘Immediately Cancel’ Arms Sale To Taiwan

“The judge is yet to decide whether he should serve a total of 16 years in jail or be released after nine years. In most cases of a similar nature, sentences get overlapped but it is upon the judge to decide,” Trital said.

Dalglish has also been told to pay compensation of 500,000 Nepali rupees ($4,550) to each of the victims.

Dalglish was arrested in April last year in Kavrepalanchowk district, near Kathmandu, by Nepal’s Central Bureau of Investigation.

The two boys were at the house where police detained Dalglish, investigators said.

Dalglish denied the charges, and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The aid worker, who in 2016 was awarded the Order of Canada — the country’s second-highest civilian honour — made his name as a humanitarian worker advocating for street children, child labourers and those affected by war.

He co-founded Street Kids International in the 1980s which merged with Save the Children.

In the last decade, Dalglish held key positions in UN agencies, including a chief for UN-Habitat in Afghanistan in 2015.

In Nepal, Dalglish was an advisor in a child programme for the International Labour Organization in the early 2000s.

Weak law enforcement has made Nepal notorious for sexual predators, with several arrests and convictions in recent years.

In 2015 a Canadian orphanage volunteer, Ernest MacIntosh, 71, was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing a disabled 15-year-old boy, while in 2010 French charity worker Jean-Jacques Haye was convicted of raping 10 children at a Kathmandu orphanage.

AFP

China Tackles Waste Problem On Mount Everest

(FILES) This file picture taken on May 21, 2018, shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. DOMA SHERPA / AFP

 

Climbers with pressing needs on Mount Everest will soon find an “eco-friendly” toilet at a Chinese campsite 7,028 metres (23,058 feet) above sea level in an ongoing campaign to deal with the peak’s waste problem.

Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world’s highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending mountaineers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement pollute the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre peak.

During the climbing season this spring, a Chinese expedition company will add what state media dubbed an “eco-friendly” loo at the higher campsite on the northern slope in Tibet.

“The toilet makes it easy to collect human waste produced by the climbers as there is a barrel with rubbish bags underneath the toilet,” Xinhua quoted Pema Tinley, deputy secretary general of the Tibet Mountaineering Association, as saying.

READ ALSO: Edo Govt Tasks Residents On Proper Waste Management

The waste will be collected and brought down the mountain.

Similar facilities have been installed at lower camps, including at the 5,200-metre north base camp, in previous years, according to Xinhua.

The waste from the base camp is taken away daily and is provided to local farmers to use as fertiliser, the news agency reported in February, citing observations by its reporter and a member of the mountaineering management team.

The temporary toilets will be removed at the end of the climbing season.

Governments on both sides of the mountain have been battling the human waste and trash left by an increasing number of climbers.

In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Everest base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up its side of the mountain.

Meanwhile, engineers in Nepal are considering installing a biogas plant near the more popular south base camp that would turn climber poo into useful fertiliser.

Currently, raw sewage from the camp is carried to the next village –- a one-hour walk –- and dumped into trenches, where it risks contaminating water sources down in the valley.

AFP

 

 

Storm Kills 27, Injures Hundreds In Nepal

 

At least 27 people have been killed and hundreds injured after a freak storm hit southern Nepal, destroying houses, uprooting trees and toppling electricity poles, officials said.

The thunderstorm swept through the district of Bara and adjoining areas late Sunday killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 600, according to the home ministry.

“The winds took away everything, my home and my family,” Ram Babu Patel, 45, who lost his wife in the storm in a village in Bara, told AFP over the phone.

Prakash Tharu, a volunteer on the ground, described a scene of devastation in the villages.

“The storm destroyed everything in its path. Houses have no roofs and trees are all down,” Tharu said.

“There is a desperate need for food and relief.”

Local and district hospitals were inundated with injured victims coming in from the affected areas.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli expressed his condolences in a tweet and said that the government would do its best for treatment of the injured.

Storms causing such high casualties in spring are rare in Nepal.

AFP

Minister Dies As Helicopter Crashes In Nepal

 

A helicopter carrying Nepal’s tourism minister has crashed in Nepal’s hilly east, officials said Wednesday, with no word yet on the fate of those aboard.

The minister, Rabindra Adhikari, was travelling with five other passengers from the eastern district of Taplejung to Terathum when the Air Dynasty chopper went down.

“A helicopter carrying Nepal’s tourism minister has crashed, but we do not have any more information right now,” Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai told reporters.

It is just the latest aviation accident to plague Nepal, an impoverished Himalayan nation with a poor air safety record.

READ ALSO: Dozens Buried In Indonesia Gold Mine Collapse

Nepal has some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge for even accomplished pilots.

In April last year, a Malaysian jet with 139 people on board aborted its takeoff and skidded off a runway.

A month earlier a US-Bangla Airways plane crashed near an airport, killing 51 people.

Nepal-based airlines are banned from flying in European Union airspace.

Its poor air safety record is largely blamed on inadequate maintenance and sub-standard management.

AFP

Spiritual Leader Under Investigation Over Disappearance Of Devotees

Nepali spiritual leader Ram Bahadur Bomjan, dubbed “Buddha Boy”, sits under a tree before an audience gathered to listen to his sermon in Ratanpuri in Bara District, some 100km (62 miles) south of Kathmandu. PANKAJ SHRESTHA / AFP

 

A Nepali spiritual leader believed by his followers to be a reincarnation of Buddha is under investigation over the disappearance of several devotees, police in Kathmandu said Monday.

Ram Bahadur Bomjan, dubbed “Buddha Boy”, became famous in 2005 after followers said he could meditate motionless for months without water, food or sleep in Nepal’s jungles.

The 28-year-old guru has a devout following but has been accused of physically and sexually assaulting some of his flock.

Special police investigators have begun inquiries after the families of four of Bomjan’s devotees allegedly vanished from his ashrams.

“The police have started investigating these complaints against Bomjan,” Uma Prasad Chaturbedi, a spokesman for Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau, told AFP.

“The investigation is in preliminary stage and we cannot share many details.”

Bomjan has long been dogged by accusations of abuse in deeply spiritual Nepal, even as thousands of worshippers queued for days to witness his so-called miracles of meditation deep in the jungle.

In September last year, an 18-year-old nun accused the guru of raping her at one of his ashrams.

Dozens more have filed complaints against him alleging assault. The self-styled godman said he beat them for disturbing his meditation.

The Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, an organisation associated with the guru, recently slammed as baseless a series of fresh allegations made by a local website, Setopati.com, which published reports detailing cases of disappearances, sexual assault and violence in his ashrams.

AFP

23 Dead As Bus Carrying Students In Nepal Crashes

 

Twenty-three people died in western Nepal when a bus carrying school students and teachers back from a botanical field trip plunged into a gorge, police said.

The students were aged mostly between 16 and 20. Two teachers and the driver also died in the accident early evening on Friday in a remote area.

The vehicle was carrying 37 people, with 22 killed at the scene and another in a nearby hospital. Fourteen people were treated for injuries.

“Our preliminary investigation shows the cause of the incident was speed,” police officer Bel Bahadur Pandey told AFP.

Road accidents are relatively common in Nepal because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

The latest comes a week after a truck accident in central Nepal killed 20 mourners returning from a funeral ritual.

Snowstorm Kills Nine Climbers On Nepal Peak

This picture was taken on October 12, 2017, / AFP

 

All nine members of a South Korean climbing expedition were confirmed dead Saturday after a violent snowstorm devastated their camp on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents to hit the Himalayan nation in recent years.

The bodies of eight climbers — four South Koreans and four Nepali guides — were spotted among the wreckage of their camp by a rescue team early Saturday morning, but strong winds and icy conditions were hampering the search effort.

A fifth South Korean climber was initially reported missing, but officials have now confirmed that he was at the camp when the deadly storm hit and is believed to have also perished.

“A mountain expedition of five South Korean nationals and four foreigners were swept off by strong winds at the base camp during their climb to Mount Gurja. (They) fell off a cliff and died,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.

Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung was among the first people to reach the site after the deadly storm and described a scene of total destruction with the tents flattened and the climber’s bodies scattered across the area.

“Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart,” Gurung told AFP.

Gurung landed a helicopter just above the expedition team’s camp, but icy and unstable conditions meant they were unable to retrieve any of the bodies.

Nepal’s tourism department said a second helicopter was being sent to the site Saturday afternoon.

“A helicopter has been sent for second rescue attempt but we are not sure whether it can get close to the incident site,” said spokeswoman Mira Acharya.

– Deadliest incident –
The storm is the deadliest incident to hit Nepal’s mountaineering industry since 18 people were killed at the Mount Everest base camp in 2015 in an avalanche triggered by a powerful earthquake.

The previous year, 16 Sherpas were killed on Everest when an avalanche swept through the Khumbu Icefall.

Wangchu Sherpa, managing director of Trekking Camp Nepal, who organised the expedition, said they raised the alarm after they had not heard from the South Korean team for nearly 24 hours.

“After they (the climbers) were out of contact since yesterday we sent people from the village and a helicopter to search for them,” he said.

The group of South Korean climbers and their Nepali guides had been camped at the foot of the 7,193-metre (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, waiting for a window of good weather so they could attempt to reach the summit.

Feted South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who in 2013 became the fastest person to summit the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, was leading the expedition, according to a government-issued climbing permit seen by AFP.

The permit listed four South Korean climbers, but a fifth member had joined the team later, according to Suresh Dakal of Trekking Camp Nepal.

Rarely-climbed Gurja lies in Nepal’s Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri — the world’s seventh-highest mountain.

Gurja was first summited in 1969 by a Japanese team but no one has stood on its summit for 22 years, according to the Himalayan Database.

The South Korean team were planning to scale the mountain via a never-climbed route, according to the Korean Alpine Federation.

Four climbers have perished on Gurja’s flanks and a total of 30 have successfully reached its peak — a fraction of the more than 8,000 people who have summited Everest, the world’s highest mountain.

Thousands of climbers flock to Nepal each year — home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks — creating a lucrative mountain tourism industry that is a vital source of cash for the impoverished country.

Dubai-Bound Flight Delayed After Pilot Fails Alcohol Test

Credit: Wikimedia commons

 

A Dubai-bound flight from Nepal was delayed by nearly 10 hours after the pilot was found to be under the influence of alcohol, officials said Monday. 

The FlyDubai flight eventually left Kathmandu with a different crew.

Crew members alerted airport officials that the pilot seemed impaired by alcohol less than an hour before the flight was scheduled to take off on Sunday morning.

“A breathalyser test showed he had consumed alcohol. A medical test confirmed the result,” Raj Kumar Chettri, Tribhuvan International Airport general manager, told AFP.

FlyDubai’s headquarters was informed and the flight with 154 passengers on board was suspended until the new crew arrived.

Authorities did not disclose the pilot’s nationality.

AFP

Dozens Injured In Police Clashes At Nepal Health Care Protest

Nepali police use tear gas to disperse crowds of the Tarun Dal, the youth wing of Nepali Congress Party, during a demonstration against the government in Kathmandu on July 21, 2018.
PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

 

Dozens of protesters in Nepal have been injured in clashes with police at a demonstration in support of a hunger-striking doctor seeking better health care in the impoverished Himalayan country.

Thousands took to the streets on Saturday in solidarity with Dr Govinda KC, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly a month demanding reforms in the medical sector and education.

Protestors from Nepal Tarun Dal, the youth wing of the opposition party Nepali Congress, were injured when police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and used batons as they entered a restricted area near the parliament in capital Kathmandu.

Activists on Sunday said they planned more protests following the clashes.

“We are protesting against the government’s authoritarian-like behaviour. They are not listening to the people and to the just demands of Dr Govinda KC,” Bhupendra Jung Shahi, general secretary of Nepal Tarun Dal, told AFP.

Viewed by his supporters as a medical Robin Hood, Dr KC is well known in Nepal for his philanthropic work, travelling to some of the country’s most remote communities to provide medical care and train local health workers.

Dr KC, 61, has gone on hunger strike 15 times over the past six years in an attempt to pressure the government to improve healthcare.

He began his current hunger strike, the longest at 23 days, on June 30 in remote Jumla district and was airlifted to Kathmandu by the government amid protests last week as concerns for his health grew.

A key sticking point has been a medical education bill registered in the parliament earlier this month seeking to overturn an ordinance by the previous government that met Dr KC’s demands to regulate doctor training and curtail commercialisation in medical education.

Dr KC has demanded a withdrawal of the bill before sitting down for talks with the government.

Another hundred supporters also joined Dr KC in a hunger strike on Sunday to pressure the government to respond positively.

“Until the government responds to his demands we will continue to protest peacefully and draw the attention of the government,” said Dinesh Prasai, a professor who had joined the fast.

Two Die In Nepal Plane Crash

FILE PHOTO

 

Two people died after a cargo plane crashed in Nepal during bad weather Wednesday, the latest aviation accident in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

The Makalu Air flight lost contact moments after takeoff and crashed into a hillside not far from its destination in the remote northwestern district of Humla.

The wreckage was found scattered across a mountain at an altitude of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet).

“Bodies of both the pilot and co-pilot have been recovered from the crash site,” district chief Madhav Prasad Dhungana told AFP.

“We believe it missed the route and crashed into a hillside, probably because of bad weather.”

Nepal has a poor road network and many remote mountain communities rely on planes and helicopters to bring in basic goods.

But the country has a dismal safety record, which is largely blamed on inadequate maintenance and poor management.

Nepal-based airlines are banned from flying in European Union airspace because of safety concerns.

In March, 51 people were killed when a passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed at Kathmandu airport, the country’s deadliest accident in more than two decades.

Last month a Malaysian jet carrying 139 people aborted a takeoff and skidded into a muddy verge at the same airport, causing chaos and long delays. No one was hurt.

AFP