Floods and landslides displace around 400 households in Sindhupalchok in past weekThe survivors’ misery is exacerbated by the looming threat of coronavirus spread at temporary shelters they have been moved to.
The rain-swollen Bhotekoshi continues to erode riversides in Sindhupalchok while heavy rains in the last few days have caused landslides in various parts of the district.
More than 400 households across the district have been displaced by the disasters in the past week, rendering them homeless and in immediate need of rehabilitation. The survivors’ misery is exacerbated by the looming threat of coronavirus spread at temporary relief shelters they have been moved to.
Dolma Tamang, 32, a displaced landslide survivor from Larcha Phumache in Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality Ward 3, says her entire village caved in due to a landslide on the morning of July 9.
“The landslide swept away the entire village along with my house. I never thought I’d live to see this day,” said Tamang.
Fifty-eight people from Larcha are currently taking shelter at Tatopani Dry Port after their village got swept away in the July 9 disaster. They are now worried about resettlement to a safer location.
Rehabilitation has taken a backseat for Theple Lama, one of the displaced landslide victims in Larcha. His immediate concern is how to avoid contracting coronavirus at the temporary shelter that houses landslide survivors.
“No one is wearing face masks here and there is no question of keeping physical distance,” said Theple, who is currently taking shelter at the Tatopani Dry Port along with 57 others from his ward.
Kailash Paudel, the Ward 3 chairman in Bhotekoshi, said the administration has no option but to keep all survivors in one room for the lack of space.
“Currently, we are focused on providing food and shelter for the displaced people. But we are also running health checks on all individuals,” he said.
Three individuals who had been missing after Matthilo Gaun of Larcha was swept away by the landslides on July 9 were found unharmed on July 11.
“I was swept away in the landslide debris. But I managed to survive. I crouched under a large boulder until Saturday morning,” said Nakche Magar, one of the missing individuals found on Saturday. He has sustained minor injuries.
Five people from the district, including three from Larcha, who sustained injuries on July 9, were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment the same day.
“I don’t know how long we will stay here at this temporary shelter but we can’t go back to our village since there’s nothing left there now,” said Magar.
Suman Shrestha, a displaced landslide victim from Hindi Bazaar in the district, said 13 families are currently taking shelter at an open space in the village.
“The local unit has managed food and shelter for us here. But no measures have been taken to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection,” he said.
In Pari Gaun of Bhotekoshi, Badure Sherpa lost his house on July 9 after the Bhotekoshi river eroded its banks.
“Every monsoon, we find ourselves in this situation. We have to flee to safer locations. Last year my house was somehow saved but this time, the flooded river swept away my house and property,” said Sherpa who is also taking shelter at the dry port.
On Wednesday night, the entire Pulpingkatti village in Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality Ward 4 caved in due to a landslide. Two bodies have been recovered from the debris at Phulpingkatti.
Rajkumar Paudel, chairperson of Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality, said three members of a family are still missing. “Two houses were swept away in Khakundol at night,” said Paudel. “But since one house was vacant at the time of the incident, there were no casualties.”
The incessant rainfall since July 8 has led to an increase in the number of flood and landslide victims in Sindhupalchok. So far, 120 families have lost their homes in Gati Jambu, Khagdal, Maneshwora, Sotang and Ramche Gaun, among other places.
Prem Tamang, the Ward 2 chairman in Jugal, said around 140 families from Sanumamfa and Lidi in Jugal Rural Municipality have left their settlements in search of safer locations after an increasing number of landslides occurred in the hills.
One hundred seventy households—including 58 in Larcha Phumache, 15 in Paungumba, 10 in Hindi Bazaar, 12 in Naya Basti, 30 in Kodari, and 14 of Mathillo Kuna, among other areas— have been displaced due to the recent floods and landslides.
According to data from the District Disaster Management Committee, around 400 households have been displaced by floods and landslides in the district since July 8. The Bhotekoshi chairperson said at least 500 people were displaced in his rural municipality alone.
Thirty-six houses were swept away by floods and landslides in Jambu, Khagdal and Barkute on July 9. Three bodies have been recovered from the incident sites whereas 20 are still missing in the flooded Bhotekoshi River.
Barhabise Municipality and Jugal Rural Municipality have been providing food and shelter for the displaced survivors but here too the threat of Covid-19 infection is high.
Sushil Pakhrin, deputy mayor of Barhabise, said, “Our immediate focus is on rehabilitating the survivors and providing food and shelter for them. We haven’t thought of the Covid-19 situation for now.”