KATHMANDU, Aug 14: Over six millions people have been affected by flooding and landslides as some parts of the western and central tarai continue to see heavy rains for the fourth consecutive day. Floods and landslides triggered by the rains have wreaked havoc in the districts of the eastern, central and western tarai. Loss of life and property has been heavy.
The death toll reached 91 as of Monday evening. According to the Home Ministry, 38 persons are still missing and 25 others have been injured. The ministry mentioned in a press statement that 2,847 houses have been completely damaged and 3,727 structures partially damaged.
“A committee was formed under the coordination of Home Minister Janardan Sharma Monday to tally details of the loss. The chief secretary and secretaries of 12 ministries are members of the committee,” said spokesperson at the Home Ministry, Ram Krishna Subedi.
Various government bodies have reported to the Home Ministry that over six million people have been affected by the floods in densely populated areas and landslides in various hill areas.
At least 21,465 families in over 30 districts have been displaced while another 48, 316 houses remain submerged, according to Nepal Police spokesperson Pushkar Karki. The full extent of damage to agriculture, including paddies and livestock and to industry remains unknown.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Bijay Gachchhadar, Home Minister Janardan Sharma and other high-level officials visited 11 districts including Rautahat, Saptari, Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa to take stock of the flood situation. Deuba talked with some flood victims and promised relief packages for rehabilitation. He pledged speedy reconstruction of the areas devastated by the flooding.
Deuba’s inspection came amid mounting criticism of the government’s inability to provide timely rescue and rehabilitation to the flood victims and a day after a cabinet meeting announced primary relief measures.
Damage to roads and bridges along the East-West Highway and local highways has made relief distribution and rescue operations difficult, said the Home Ministry spokesperson.
According to Republica’s Siraha correspondent, dozen of bridges have collapsed or are partially damaged in Sarlahi, Mahottari and Saptari districts. This has rendered rescue and relief efforts difficult and also affected travelers. Resumption of transportation, power and communications has become a challenge for the government.
According to the Home Ministry, some 26,700 people have been deployed for rescue operations in the affected areas, including 8,300 trained security personnel. The ministry has informed that 5,600 personnel of the Nepal Police, 1,700 from the Armed Police Force and 1,000 from Nepal Army have been deployed.
Victims stranded in the floods are being rescued by helicopter, motor boats and rafts. Altogether 13 helicopters have been hired for the rescue operations and for dispatching food and other essential relief materials, according to the government.
In a statement, the Nepal Army said that its rescue and relief teams have evacuated 5,600 people caught in the floods. Of these, 1,100 were airlifted from various areas as of 4 pm Monday.
The government said the actual number of displaced families could be much higher as many villages are still awaiting rescue and evacuation. The search and rescue teams have started approaching the most affected villages from Monday as the rains have slowed down in the eastern and central areas.
Dispatching assistance and relief materials was difficult in previous days due to the heavy downpour.
Security forces have been using helicopters to supply aid and other essentials including food, blankets and medicine. But many inundated areas still remain inaccessible.