The death toll from landslides and flooding triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Nepal and northern India has climbed to at least 109 as tides of water, mud and rocks swept away houses, officials said.
The downpours also displaced thousands of people in the scenic Himalayan region and revived memories of a deadly deluge last year that killed more than 5,000 people in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
The rains in Nepal over the past three days have killed 85 people and stranded thousands more.
Rescuers struggled to retrieve the bodies on Sunday amid fears of a cholera outbreak as army officials ran helicopter sorties to evacuate about 20,000 people stranded in badly-hit western districts, said national disaster management chief Yadav Prasad Koirala.
“We are very concerned about a possible outbreak of cholera due to the bodies lying underwater,” Koirala told the AFP news agency.
The rains have damaged roads across the country’s western plains bordering India, with poor visibility hindering helicopter rescue efforts.
“Because of the damage to roads in the area, we can only deliver relief supplies like tents and medicines by helicopter,” home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.
The deaths come two weeks after the worst landslide in over a decade smashed into hamlets in northeastern Nepal, killing 156 people.
Monsoon rains have also forced officials to close a major bridge along the country’s longest highway after it developed cracks and caved in.
Meanwhile, heavy downpours in neighbouring India triggered landslides and flooding that have claimed at least 24 lives since Friday, according to government officials.
In Uttarakhand state, seven people were killed in their sleep by a landslide as monsoon rains pounded the hilly region this week.
“Seven people were killed while one woman was pulled alive by rescue workers from the debris of a house which collapsed due to overnight rain,” district magistrate Chandresh Yadav told AFP, adding the total death toll was now 24.
According to officials in Pauri district, at least 50 families were stranded and the army was being deployed to evacuate them.
With more rain predicted in the next 24 hours, state authorities have sought reinforcements from the army and the air force, said Indian government spokesman Surendra Kumar.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on Twitter over the loss of lives in the state.
Hundreds of people die every year in floods and landslides during the monsoon season in South Asia.