June 12, 2015
According to Republica, a massive landslide triggered by incessant rainfall hit six VDCs in Taplejung District on Wednesday night, leaving 55 people dead as of Thursday evening, local time. Scores are missing.
The affected VDCs are Khokling, Liwang, Santhakra, Thinglabu, Lingtep and Khamlung, with Liwang, where 26 people were killed, the hardest hit in terms of casualties. There were no casualties in Khamlung.
The dead include 9 in Khokling, 12 in Santhakra, 5 in Thinglabu and 3 in Lingtep, apart from the 26 in Liwang, according to locals.
The death toll may rise as the search and rescue operation is still underway.
The landslide has placed the human settlements near the Tamor and Mewakhola rivers at risk. The landslide has converted Ramduwali Bazaar into a riverbank and swept away nine households from there. They are still out of contact.
The dense human settlement at Dobhan, or the confluence of the two rivers, is also vulnerable to landslide, according to the area police office. There are around 100 houses at Dobhan.
"We've already urged the locals to move to safer locations from the riverside areas," said police inspector Devi Prasad Phago.
Meanwhile, Chief District Officer (CDO) Damaru Prasad Niraula informed that the rescue operation has been hampered by bad weather conditions and rainfall. The Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) has recorded 129 mm rainfall in a period of 24 hours on Wednesday.
"Even the trekking routes to the landslide area have been swept away, which has adversely affected the rescue work," he said.
CDO Niraula claimed that security personnel are trying their best to expedite the rescue operation despite the bad weather.
Police say they are finding it difficult to rescue people as rains have caused water level to rise in rivers and rivulets. A rescue helicopter flew to Taplejung from Kathmandu but could not land in any of the landslides-hit villages due to adverse weather. Police and locals are digging the landslide debris to recover bodies.
A landslide in Myangkhama village of Taplejung has also blocked part of the Mechi Highway, making it difficult for additional rescue teams to arrive in the distric
A Nepal Army (NA) rescue team from the capital airlifted 10 injured to the district hospital from Liwang and Lingtep on Thursday morning. Dr Kumud Bhattarai, who is involved in the treatment of the injured, said that the condition of most of the victims admitted to the hospital is critical.
"The patients have sustained serious injuries to the head, legs and other parts of the body," said Dr Bhattarai.
Meanwhile, issuing a press release, NA's Directorate of Public Relations said that helipads are being constructed at the landslide-hit areas to facilitate the rescue operations.
Jharendra Thapa, a local eyewitness in Khokling, recounted his own experience:
It rained heavily, stopped for some time, and then continued again incessantly. Thunder and lightening accompanied the rain. We felt scared and we stayed on the alert. All of a sudden, nearby rivers and rivulets became filled with muddy water. Then we learnt about the landsides taking place upstream. Informing all our neighbours, we ran helter-skelter to save our lives. Many of us who managed to run to safety on time have survived. Our village turned into a landslide area in a while.
Two children who didn't know about the landslide died on the spot. Lam Kumari Lamgade was swept away while trying to escape from the village. Even the place we moved to was not safe from landslides, but it was somewhat safer than our village.