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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, June 21, 2018


Several killed, dozens missing in Nepal landslides

Media reports claim around 55 people have been killed

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KATHMANDU, Nepal - Scores of people were killed and dozens are missing after landslides caused by heavy rains hit several villages in Nepal overnight on Thursday, officials said.


The landslides occurred as people were sleeping in their mostly muddy homes in six villages in Nepal's mountainous northeast Taplejung district, about 500kms east of the capital, Katmandu, the officials said.

Media reports claim around 55 people have been killed.

Police official Shanti Raj said that rescuers have so far dug out at least 21 bodies and the search for survivors in the rubble is continuing.

Some 27 people were reported missing, and several are known to be trapped, said Surendra Bhattarai, a senior official in the district of Taplejung bordering China.

Officials feared that the death toll could rise.

Rescuers, mostly soldiers and police officers, with relief material were trying to reach the area. But dense fog hampered the operation, Bhattarai said.

"We are trying to arrange helicopters for rescue operations," he said.

Home ministry official Laxmi Dhakal said in Kathmandu that rain and fog prevented a rescue helicopter from landing in the village town which is at least five hours away on foot when the weather is good.

Getting to the site was taking much longer as there are no government offices or police stations in the area.

Landslides are common in mountainous Nepal during the monsoon season, from June to September.

Last August, a deadly landslide at the Chinese border washed out a crucial highway leaving people living in the area with no access for months.

The Himalayan country is still recovering from earthquakes in April and May that killed more than 8,700 people and caused massive damage.

Officials fear that landslides could be particularly bad this season because of the major earthquakes.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese government announced Thursday that it would hire international experts to study trekking routes in the mountains to see if they are safe for hikers to return.

At least 19 people were killed and scores injured in an avalanche at Mt. Everest base camp triggered by the April 25 quake.

Also, the trails around the Langtang valley in northern Nepal were completely damaged and an entire village buried by a landslide and avalanche set off by the earthquake.

Tens of thousands of foreigners come to Nepal every year to trek on the foothills of the Himalayan peaks. The next trekking season starts in September.

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