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39 dead or missing after major landslide hits Nepal


A major landslide hit the district of Sindhupalchok in Nepal early Friday morning (LT), August 14, 2020, leaving at least 39 people dead or missing. Sindhupalchok is about 130 km (81 miles) east of Kathmandu. The district is among the worst-hit areas in the massive M8.1 earthquake of April 25, 2015, which claimed more than 8 700 lives and left the already delicate local geography destabilized.

The landslide took place in Lidi village of Jugal Rural Municipality-2 at around 06:30 LT, destroying at least 37 of the village's 150 homes built on a steep slope and threatening many others.

As of Sunday afternoon (UTC), 18 bodies have been recovered; 21 people are still missing.

5 critically injured people have been airlifted to the capital.

"Landslide has posed a huge risk in the area. Part of the slope which came on Friday has now posed a threat to other houses near it. We are still searching for survivors trapped under the debris with limited equipment," Deputy Superintendent of Police Madhav Prasad Kale told ANI.

Authorities said they've sent a team of 150 security personnel from the Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, and Nepal Police.

According to disaster officials, this monsoon season has both unprecedented rainfall and the death toll caused by landslides — nearly 200 confirmed deaths and more than 40 people unaccounted for.

Although the Sindhupalchok district has always been prone to landslides, it was one of the worst-hit areas in the massive M8.1 earthquake of April 25, 2015, which further destabilized the already delicate local geography, increasing the number of landslides.

The quake claimed the lives of more than 8 700 people across the country. Of those, 3 440 in Sindhupalchok alone.

Anil Pokhrel, chief executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, said nature is not the only one to blame. "The way we developed our infrastructures, particularly roads in quake-destabilized fragile landscapes, is causing frequent cases of landslides."

Another reason for the increase in landslides is that people in the affected district like to grow rice, which requires a lot of water, leading to soil erosion.

Featured image: NDRRMA


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