Thursday morning landslides kill 11 in Syangja and Palpa while five others have gone missingRescue efforts have been affected due to adverse weather conditions and active landslides in the affected areas.
Eleven people died and five others have gone missing in landslides in Syangja and Palpa districts on Thursday morning.
Nine people were killed by a landslide in Tamadi in Waling Municipality Ward No 14 in Syangja while one person was rescued alive by locals.
Durga Luitel, a local of Tamadi, heard cries for help from a neighbour’s house buried under the landslide at around 5:30 on Thursday morning. Luitel along with 20 other locals tried to rescue the victims but could only pull out 16-year-old Manisha Nepali from the debris. “Nine other family members were trapped in the landslide. They cried for help but we could not save them,” said Nepali.
A seven-month-old baby, three women, two men, a teenage girl and two boys were among the deceased, said Superintendent of Police Hobindra Bogati in Syangja. “The girl who survived the landslide has injuries in her leg. She is currently receiving treatment at Gandaki Medical College in Pokhara. She is out of danger,” he said.
The landslide occurred around 50 metres above the two-storey stone and mud house.
A road was constructed just a few metres above the house around 10 years ago and was widened around two years ago. Locals say that the widening of the road had put the house at high risk of landslide. “The road expansion had eroded the area above the settlement. Four other houses in the area are still at risk,” said Kalpana Aryal, a local woman.
According to her, around 30 houses in Gayakdanda, another settlement in the same ward, are also in danger.
According to some villagers, the family of the house buried by Thursday’s landslide had spent last year’s monsoon at a local school building fearing landslide threats in the settlement.
“They had spent several nights at their relatives’ house this rainy season too. They had returned to the house only a week ago believing that the monsoon season was over,” said Kiran Neupane, another local.
According to Mayor Dilip Pratap Khand, the whole settlement of Tamadi is at risk of landslides but no plans have been made for the relocation of the villagers.
“There is no immediate plan to relocate the settlement as of now. We have, however, moved 12 people from two families to a local school,” he said. “The road in question that apparently led to the landslide was constructed by the Department of Roads. We had repeatedly informed the department about the landslide risk but it went unheard.”
Similarly, a 16-year-old was killed in a landslide in Kaligandaki Rural Municipality Ward No 4. All 10 bodies were taken to Primary Health Centre in Waling for postmortem. Their funerals were held together at Ramdi later in the day.
In Palpa, a landslide at Surumdanda in Phoksingkot village of Rambha Rural Municipality-2 killed one person while five others have gone missing.
Police said a 27-year old pregnant woman perished in the incident. The woman’s husband survived the incident.
According to the District Police Office, five houses were buried in the landslide.
The landslide has also exposed 17 other houses in the village to the risk of being swept away, as the country has been witnessing widespread rainfall since early this week.
According to locals, the landslide occurred at around 3:33am on Thursday morning. Man Bahadur Gaha, whose house was also buried by the same landslide, recalled hearing a loud noise in the early hours. “I rushed out of the house with my wife and daughter and managed to escape just in time.”
Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Bhattarai at the District Police Office in Palpa, said, “It rained all day on Wednesday and continued through the night. The rainfall led to the landslide.”
A relief and rescue team, deployed from Tansen, has not been able to reach the incident site since the road leading to the village has been obstructed due to landslides. “Phoksingkot is a remote village. The team could not move beyond Tanhu Deurali area since the roadway is blocked,” said Bhattarai. “We are using a dozer to clear the landslide debris from Aaryabhanjyang-Rampur road. Hopefully, the team will be able to reach Phoksingkot by tomorrow.”
Phoksingkot village is 35 kilometres from Tansen, the district headquarters of Palpa.
While the locals have formed search teams to look for the missing individuals, the operation has hit a snag due to bad weather conditions, says Uman Singh Saru, the ward chairman of Rambha Ward No. 2. “Five individuals may still be trapped in the debris but we haven’t been able to search for them since the landslide is still active and it hasn’t stopped raining.”
The chairman of the rural municipality, Bishnu Prasad Bhandari, and other people representatives reached the incident site during the day. “Police personnel from the Hungi Police Post are on standby for rescue works. They will be mobilised once the rain stops.”
Meanwhile, Ewat Kumar Saru, the headmaster at Sanahungi Secondary School, said, “We have heard that the team of the security personnel from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepali Army are on the way. Locals are unable to search for the missing individuals due to continuous rainfall.”
According to the latest weather prediction of the Meteorological Forecasting Division, many parts of the country will receive rainfall with thunderstorms for the next few days. The monsoon is likely to be active till Friday with the possibility of floods and landslides across the country, Raju Pradhnang, a senior meteorologist at the division told the Post on Tuesday.