Nepal Flood Toll Hits 101, Fears of Disease Rise

By Binaj Gurubacharya | August 19, 2014

Nepalese authorities said Monday they feared an outbreak of diseases as they attempt to reach thousands of people stranded by flooding that has already killed more than 100 people.

The swirling floodwaters have even crossed into neighboring India, submerging farmland and hundreds of villages. At least 84 Indians have died, either from the floodwaters or from torrential rains, authorities said.

Jhanka Nath Dhakal of Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center said four helicopters with food, emergency supplies, medicine and medical workers were sent to villages in the west of the country.

Rescuers were also attempting to reach the villages by road. However, most of the highways and rural roads are either submerged or damaged by the flooding, preventing vehicles from passing.

Thousands of people have been left without shelter and cut off from the rest of the country since Thursday in 10 districts in west Nepal. Much of the area is farm land where the villagers are poor and live in mud and straw huts that are easily washed away.

Authorities fear the lack of clean drinking water, food and sanitation could lead to outbreak of cholera, dysentery and encephalitis.

Dhakal said the government was trying to send medical teams to the villages with medical supplies to prevent diseases that can follow flooding. They are also distributing tents and plastic sheets to make temporary shelter, utensils to cook food and clothes for those who lost their belongings.

Earlier this month, a massive landslide covered an entire village near Katmandu, killing 156 people.

The June-September monsoon season often bring flooding to Nepal and neighboring India, and in northern India, torrential rain and landslides have killed at least 50 people in Uttarakhand state, many of them washed away as rivers overflowed, submerging villages and fields.

Officials in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state reported 10 more deaths overnight, pushing the death toll in the state to 34.

People in the worst-affected villages were being evacuated to relief camps set up in government and school buildings, said Alok Ranjan, a bureaucrat in Uttar Pradesh.

Several rivers flowing through Uttar Pradesh overflowed after water was released from dams located in Nepal, Ranjan said.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through Uttarakhand state during the monsoon season. Heavy deforestation over the last few decades has made the area more vulnerable to landslides.

 

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