61 people were killed in the first month of monsoon this yearWith three more months of monsoon remaining, the country could see more rain-related disasters, warns top official.
At least two people have been losing lives in rain-related incidents every day across the country this monsoon season.
Government data on the loss and damage caused by the ongoing monsoon in its first month show that 61 people have died in rain-related incidents in various districts.
According to the First Monthly Report on Monsoon 2021 of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority released on Tuesday, 61 people lost their lives between June 11 and July 15.
Of the total deaths, 28 were due to floods, 26 were caused by landslides and the remaining seven were due to heavy rainfall, the authority’s data show.
“The impact of the monsoon has been devastating,” said Bishwa Prakash Aryal, joint secretary and spokesperson for the authority. “There have been more such monsoon-related incidents in the first month as compared to the first month of the last year, although human casualties were much higher in 2020.”
Last year’s monsoon was the deadliest in several years, with the country recording 305 rain-related incidents that killed 106 people, left 46 missing and 95 injured in the first month—between June 14 and July 14.
The situation is no less frightening this time.
In the first month of the monsoon, as many as 47 districts were affected by disasters like landslides, floods, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.
As many as 332 such incidents—143 landslides, 126 heavy rainfall and 63 floods—were reported across the country that left many people dead and hundreds others displaced.
“The country started seeing extreme weather incidents soon after the monsoon clouds entered the country. Only days after the onset of the monsoon, heavy rainfall triggered massive damage in many parts of the country,” said Aryal. “The most affected districts so far this season have been Sindhupalchok and Manang.”
In the first week of the monsoon arrival, the Melamchi area of Sindhupalchok saw massive floods and inundation.
A huge landslide blocked the Melamchi river before the accumulated debris was released with a force, burying riverside settlements including the Melamchi Bazaar under flood waters on June 15. The flooding also caused huge damage to the Melamchi Water Supply Project. As many as five persons died and 20 others are still missing in the disaster.
Similar devastation was witnessed in the mountain district of Manang, which is not used to monsoon-related disasters.
An analysis of the data on natural hazard event frequency shows that between 1971 and 2020, Manang was the district least affected by such events.
However, this time, the mountain district north of the Himalayas witnessed heavy rainfall, causing widespread floods and landslides which were attributed to a lot of rain in the pre-monsoon period and subsequently in the first month of the ongoing monsoon. Manang also set a new record of daily rainfall this monsoon.
“No deaths have been reported in Manang, although there has been huge property damage,” said Aryal. “Similar scale of devastation has been reported in Lamjung, Gorkha and Bajura, among other districts.”
Rainfall triggered disasters have displaced 908 families in several districts this season. The monsoon has also caused massive damage to public property like roads, bridges, hydropower projects, government offices and schools.
As per the report, as many as 25 hydropower projects, 25 paved bridges and as many suspension bridges have been damaged so far.
The magnitude of devastation can be linked to the huge amount of rainfall the country received in June, experts say.
As per the rainfall data for the month of June, the first month of the four-month monsoon season, most parts of the country received above average rainfall for the month, subsequently unleashing floods and landslides in various parts of the country.
According to the precipitation data of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology from its 71 stations across the country, the month of June received 399mm of rain. The normal rainfall at those 71 stations for June is 295.1mm. This June, however, these stations received 35.2 percent more rain.
“This year, we have noticed that heavy rainfall has been occurring after a gap of a few days,” said Aryal. “As three months of monsoon season is still active, there is a chance of more rain-related incidents in the coming weeks.”
The meteorology department has said that the country is likely to receive above normal rainfall this monsoon, further increasing the possibility of more extreme weather events in the coming weeks.
According to Aryal, the agencies concerned have been working to minimise the risk of disasters and the loss of life and property.
“The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has been regularly alerting the general public about adverse weather conditions. Security forces continue to relocate communities at risk to safer places. Authorities concerned are also arranging relief materials in disaster-prone districts,” said Aryal. “However, such incidents are unprecedented and damage occurs despite our preparations as the country is vulnerable to such disasters. The general public needs to stay alert.”