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Swollen river inundates hundreds of homes, capital Kathmandu cut off as death toll surpasses 130, Nepal


At least 105 houses were flooded in Nepal's Jhapa rural municipality after the Kankai River's eastern embankment was breached due to heavy rains on July 20, 2020.  Several landslides hit Prithvi Highway on July 20 and 21, cutting off capital Kathmandu from most of the country. Since June, when the rainy season began in Nepal, more than 130 people were killed. 48 others remain missing. 

About 83 houses were affected in Milan Basti, Ward No. 1, and 22 in Sadakbari, Ward No. 2, according to municipality chairperson Jay Narayan Sah.

Families in the area were taken to safer locations on the same day. Some people returned home to Milanbasti on Tuesday morning, July 21, after the water level decreased.

However, Sah noted that the situation is not yet safe for most of the other families to come back to their settlements.

"The flooded river has breached a 300 m (984 feet) long section of the embankment."

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Jhatru Rajbanshi, one of the displaced locals, said floodwaters had been eroding the embankment for the past four days. About 1 000 bighas or 160 ha (400 acres) of paddy fields were also hit.

Ward No. 2 chairperson Netra Bahadur Khadka explained that their crew tried to prevent floodwaters from sweeping through the settlement after it started eroding the embankment by building temporary embankments with sandbanks, "but they couldn't hold through the flood."

Sah warned that further hundreds of houses in Milanbasti, Sadakbari, Salmara, and Lasungunj will be flooded if the embankment faces more damage.

Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, Red Cross Society members, and other local volunteers are involved in rescue and relief operations.

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Several landslides hit the Prithvi Highway on Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21, blocking portions of the road and cutting off capital Kathmandu from most of the country.

In addition, a flooded river also damaged a bridge on the highway, stranding hundreds of vehicles on either side of the road.

Floods, landslides and lightning have claimed at least 131 lives since June when the monsoon season began. 48 people remain missing.

Featured image credit: Subash Rai/YouTube


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