Floods, Landslides Kill 116 In India And Nepal

People wade through a flooded road in front of a teaching hospital after heavy rains in Biratnagar on October 20, 2021, as the death toll from days of flooding and landslides in India and Nepal crossed 100. PHOTO: Lila Ballav Ghimire / AFP

 

More than 100 people have died following several days of massive flooding and landslides in India and Nepal, officials said Wednesday, with scores more missing.

In Uttarakhand in northern India, officials said that 46 people had died in recent days with 11 missing. In Kerala in the south chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the death toll had hit 39 there.

At least 30 of those in Uttarakhand were killed in seven separate incidents in the Nainital region early Tuesday, after cloudbursts — an ultra-intense deluge of rain — triggered a series of landslides and destroyed several structures.

Commuters wade through a flooded national highway after river Kosi overflowed following heavy rains near Rampur in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on October 20, 2021, as the death toll from days of flooding and landslides in India and Nepal crossed 100. PHOTO: AFP

 

Five of the dead were from a single-family whose house was buried by a massive landslide, local official Pradeep Jain told AFP.

In Nepal, disasters management division official Humkala Pandey said: “In the last three days, there have been 31 deaths from floods and landslides triggered by heavy post-monsoon rainfalls across the country. Forty-three people are missing.”

He added: “It’s still raining in many places. We are still compiling data from the field. The death toll could go up further.”

AFP

Death Toll Rises As Monsoon Floods Hit Bhutan And Nepal

Commuters make their way through flooded roads following heavy monsoon rains in Mumbai on June 9, 2021. PHOTO: Punit PARANJPE / AFP

 

At least a dozen people have been killed in Bhutan and Nepal and several others are missing as torrential monsoon rains hit the region, triggering landslides and inundating homes, officials said Thursday.

The annual monsoon season is crucial to replenish water supplies across South Asia, but it also causes death and destruction.

Ten collectors of cordyceps — a fungus valued for its alleged aphrodisiac properties — died when their remote mountain camp north of Bhutan’s capital Thimpu has washed away early Wednesday.

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Five others were injured and were in a stable condition in hospital, officials said.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering offered his prayers and condolences and said a rescue team had been sent to the site.

“I urge everyone across the country to avoid visiting or camping by the riverside, and to be cautious of such possible mishaps during (the) monsoon,” he added in a message on Facebook.

In Nepal, the bodies of two Chinese workers were recovered on Thursday from Sindhupalchok near the capital Kathmandu, taking the total death toll from floods in the district to three.

Their bodies were found more than a hundred kilometres from where they had initially been swept away by the overflowed Melamchi River, officials said.

Thirteen others are still missing while hundreds more were displaced from their homes, they added.

“We still see possibilities of rescuing alive those who are missing, because some of them could be taking shelter in safer places,” Arun Pokharel, the local district chief, told AFP.

More than 70 people have been rescued so far.

But rescue efforts have been hampered by telecommunication failures in the area, Pokharel added.

The number of deadly floods and landslides has increased in recent years in Nepal. Experts say climate change and more road construction could be triggering deadly disasters.

More than 200 people were killed in landslides and floods during last year’s monsoon season in Nepal.

AFP

One Dead, Seven Missing In Nepal Monsoon Flood

Residents stand along the banks of the overflowed Melamchi River following heavy monsoon rains in Sindhupalchok, some 70 km northeast of Kathmandu on June 16, 2021.
PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

 

At least one person died and seven others were missing after houses and bridges were washed away when a river burst during heavy monsoon rains in Nepal, officials said Wednesday.

The annual monsoon rains in the Himalayan nation revitalises farms and waterways but also trigger deadly landslides and floods.

Officials said a landslide caused by the monsoon deluge blocked a river, which then burst and sent a flood of water downstream late Tuesday, inundating a settlement in Sindhupalchowk district near the capital Kathmandu.

“One body has been recovered and seven others are missing from different places in the flood,” district official Baburam Khanal told AFP.

Residents stand along the banks of the overflowed Melamchi River following heavy monsoon rains in Sindhupalchok, some 70 km northeast of Kathmandu on June 16, 2021.
PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Rescuers from the police and army rescued at least 60 people, officials added, using helicopters for difficult-to-reach areas.

The river started swelling suddenly on Tuesday evening, locals told AFP.

“None of the residents have slept tonight, we haven’t slept at all looking at this terrifying situation,” resident Sailesh Khadka said.

“It all happened after 8pm or 9pm at night.”

A further two people died and four others remained missing after flooding in other districts over the past two days, Dil Kumar Tamang of Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center said.

“We are also sending relief materials to the affected but the weather is making the process difficult,” Tamang said.

Heavy rains were forecast for at least the next two days, the weather bureau said.

The number of deadly floods and landslides has increased in recent years in Nepal. Experts say climate change and more road construction could be triggering the deadly disasters.

More than 200 people were killed in landslides and floods in Nepal during last year’s monsoon season.

Nepal Hit By Worst Wildfires In Almost A Decade

In this picture taken on March 5, 2021, residents battle a fire in a forest in Baglung, about 275 km west of Kathmandu. PHOTO: Riwaj SHARMA / AFP

 

Nepal is experiencing its worst fire season in almost a decade, officials said Tuesday, as huge blazes rage across the country’s forests, engulfing the Himalayan nation in a shroud of brownish haze.

Air quality in the capital Kathmandu was ranked on Tuesday as the worst in the world, according to monitoring site IQAir, with some international flights delayed as thick smoke blanketed the city.

“The highest number of wildfires have been reported this season since records of such incidents were maintained nine years ago,” the spokesman for Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, Uddav Prasad Rijal, told AFP.

Firefighters were working to bring the flames under control, officials said.

More than 2,700 wildfires have been reported in Nepal since November, 14 times higher than in the same period last year, the government said.

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Rijal said the winter season between November and February was drier than usual, increasing the risk. The wildfire season starts in November and lasts until the onset of the monsoon in June.

Farmers were also burning parts of forested land to grow grass to feed their livestock, Rijal added.

In Bara district in southern Nepal, a villager said his home had been “choking in smoke” for a week as fire raged in a local forest.

“It was the worst wildfire I have seen in my life. There has to be a system to control it better,” Bharat Ghale, 60, said.

Climate expert Madhukar Upadhya said it was “inevitable” that there would be more wildfires as Nepal’s winters become drier as a result of climate change.

“Work needs to be done to reduce the risk of fires at community level and they (communities) have to be equipped to mitigate it when a wildfire occurs,” Upadhya told AFP.

Last week, schools were shut for four days after air quality reached hazardous levels.

AFP

Heavy Snow Delays Search For Missing Trekkers In Nepal

Trekkers arrive after a rescue operation from the Annapurna circuit, at the airport of Pokhara, some 200 km west of Kathmandu, on January 18, 2020.
KRISHNA MANI BARAL / AFP

 

Heavy snow, chilling winds and poor visibility hampered the search Sunday for four South Koreans and three Nepalis caught in an avalanche in the popular Annapurna region of the Himalayas, officials said.

Relatives of the missing Koreans have arrived in Kathmandu alongside several officials sent by Seoul to help with the emergency rescue efforts, Ang Dorjee Sherpa of the Korean Alpine Federation told AFP.

The missing group was near the Annapurna base camp around 3,230 metres (10,600 feet) above sea level when the avalanche struck after heavy snowfall on Friday.

“Search and rescue efforts are underway but weather and snow in the area have made it difficult to make much progress,” said Mira Acharya from Nepal’s tourism department.

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Helicopters were sent out on Saturday to rescue about 200 people stranded around Annapurna and other nearby mountains after the incident.

Photos from the area shared on social media showed guesthouses along the trekking route blanketed in a thick layer of snow.

Tek Gurung, a guesthouse owner aiding in the search operation, said more than two metres of snow (6.6 feet) had fallen on the hiking trails.

“We have been searching since yesterday but have not found anything yet. It is very windy and snowy here, to search the snow-covered areas on foot is difficult,” Gurung told AFP over the phone.

“There are still masses of snow falling from above.”

Six of the missing were part of the same expedition, while one Nepali porter was escorting a different group.

The four foreigners — two men and two women — were part of an 11-member team of South Korean nationals.

“The rest of the team are unhurt and have safely come down. We are coordinating to make the search operation effective,” said Dilip Gurung of the tourism management committee in Chhomrong, which lies on the trekking route.

Education officials in Seoul said they were part of a team of volunteer teachers working with children in Nepal.

Two more South Koreans were due to arrive in Nepal on Sunday to help with the search, the country’s foreign ministry said.

Sherpa said it had snowed heavily around Annapurna in recent days, making the trek risky.

“The weather and snow got worse and, feeling it was becoming dangerous and difficult, they decided to turn. As they were heading back the avalanche hit,” Sherpa told AFP on Saturday.

Annapurna is an avalanche-prone and technically difficult mountain range with a higher death rate than Everest, the world’s highest peak.

Thousands of trekkers visit the route every year for its stunning views of the Himalayas.

A snowstorm killed about 40 people on the circuit in 2014, in one of the biggest trekking tragedies to hit Nepal.

AFP

Nepal Arrests 122 Chinese Over Suspected Cyber Scam

 

More than 100 Chinese nationals in Nepal on tourist visas have been detained over a suspected cyber scam, police said Wednesday, in the country’s largest-ever crackdown involving foreigners.

Eight women were among the 122 Chinese nationals arrested in a coordinated police raid on nine houses in the capital Kathmandu on Monday.

Police said the houses were set up like hostels with large kitchens, bunk beds and rows of tables and chairs for working.

“We suspect they were involved in cyber crime. We are investigating the evidence… action will then be taken accordingly,” Niraj Bahadur Shahi, chief of Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau, told AFP.

More than 700 mobile phones, 331 laptops and nearly a hundred desktop computers were confiscated from the houses. Police also gathered pen drives and SIM cards.

Nepal coordinated with Beijing’s National Central Bureau in the operation, Shahi added.

The arrests come days after more than 340 Chinese nationals were arrested in the Philippines in a raid on unlicensed gaming businesses.

And last month almost 700 Chinese nationals were arrested in Malaysia when authorities busted a major online investment scam operation. It is not clear whether the arrests are linked.

AFP

14 Killed In Nepal Pilgrimage Bus Crash

 

At least 14 people died after a bus carrying pilgrims veered off a highway and rolled down a steep slope in central Nepal Sunday, officials said, the latest deadly traffic accident in the Himalayan nation.

Police said the bus carrying 32 passengers plunged 70 metres (230 feet) onto a lower stretch of the winding road in Sindhupalchowk district, around 80 kilometres north-east of the capital Kathmandu.

“We have recovered the bodies of 12 passengers from the accident,” police officer Prajwal Maharjan told AFP, adding that two others had died in hospital.

Four of the dead were children, traffic police added.

Some 18 passengers who were injured were taken to hospital, with officials unclear if the bus driver was among them or had fled the scene of the crash.

The passengers were returning from a pilgrimage to Kalinchowk Bhagawati, a popular Hindu temple located at a heigh of almost 4000 metres in the hills of Nepal’s Dolakha district, around 140 kilometres east of Kathmandu.

The cause of the accident was not yet known, but police said reckless driving down the steep and winding road could have been a key factor.

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

At least 18 passengers were killed when a bus plunged into a gorge in central Nepal last month.

Three Dead In Nepal Bomb Blast

 

Three people, including a police official, were killed when a bomb exploded in southern Nepal early Saturday.

The device detonated outside a local residence after the owner called the police to report a suspicious object on his premises in Dhanusha district.

“The blast occurred just as our team reached there to investigate. The owner, his son and a member of our force were killed,” senior police official Pradhumna Karki told AFP.

Karki said that two more members of the family and another police officer were also injured and are undergoing treatment.

“We are investigating the case, no one has claimed its responsibility yet,” he said.

Nepal has enjoyed relative peace since the end of a decade-long civil war which concluded with a peace deal struck in 2006.

In May, four people were killed and seven injured in three blasts in the capital Kathmandu, as members of an outlawed Maoist faction made a botched attempt to plant bombs around the city.

AFP

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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