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13 die in Nepal flash flood

Publication Date : 06-05-2012


Thirteen people died and at least nine others went missing after a landslide near Machhapuchhre mountain region in Nepal triggered a catastrophic flash flood, sweeping settlements and breaching the riverbanks downstream yesterday.

A powerful outburst of the landslide-choked Seti wreaked havoc in the downstream settlements, including Sadal and Kharapani.

Security personnel involved in the rescue operation said as of Saturday evening, 13 bodies, including of five women, were recovered from the muddy slush left behind by the flood. The bodies had been swept away as far down as Nirmal Pokhari, not far away from Pokhara. 

Shailesh Thapa Chhetri of Kaski District Police Office said the rescue personnel also recovered some severed limbs.

Among those dead, only two were identified as of Saturday evening. Police released their names as Archana Shrestha from Bagale Tol of Pokhara and Gopal Tamrakar of Kharapani.

Nine persons have been reported missing in the flood, including three Ukrainian nationals identified as Oleksandr Dubinskiy, Alla Polonchuk and Ivan Malaknov. Similarly, the other missing were listed as Dhungey Buda, Dorje Tamang, Chasmey Buda, Bishnu Gurung, Chet Bahadur Thapa and a person identified only by his surname Bhujel.

Security personnel and the local people fear the number of the dead and the missing could be much more.

Those who survived the flood with injuries were admitted to the Manipal Teaching Hospital and Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara.

Since it was Saturday, there were many people on picnic and some enjoying the hot spring dip at Kharapani. There were also people working on embankment construction site and those collecting sand and stones on riverbanks.

"There was nothing unusual. People were enjoying picnic, some were relaxing in the hot spring pools by the river and others working. And out of nowhere came this swelling dark murky water with debris, sweeping away many people," said Uddha Bahadur Gurung.

Police said the flood swept away at least 18 houses at Sadal and Kharapani along with four trucks and a tractor. A 200-meter section road leading to Kharapani and two suspension bridges were also damaged. The actual damage caused by the flood, however, could not be ascertained immediately. 

Victor Jung Rana, chief of the Western Regional Division of the Nepal Army, said the landslide had taken place at the altitude of around 11,500 feet. After conducting an aerial inspection of the landslide-hit area, Rana said there was no imminent landslide threat. 

Govt team to coordinate relief work

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has formed a committee headed by Home Secretary Sushil Jung Rana to coordinate the relief work being taken on behalf of the government in the aftermath of Saturday morning’s floods in Kaski district.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the panel includes experts from ICIMOD, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, and representatives from the security forces.

The ministry also sent a Nepal Army helicopter to oversee the flood-hit areas and identify other risk zones, if any. “The MoHA team will also be focusing on building effective response mechanism through public awareness in an event of further crisis due to floods,” the release read.

Another team headed by Chief District Officer of Kaski has started collecting data on the casualties caused by floods. Issuing a statement, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai expressed his condolences to the families of deceased. "The government requests the public to remain calm and patient at the moment of this crisis," the statement read.

Meanwhile, issuing separate statements, Nepali Congress and UCPN (Maoist) have expressed sadness over the nature’s blow and asked the government to provide immediate relief to families of the victims.


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