Landslides bury construction workers near Nepal's capital

At least 10, including eight construction workers, killed in landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Himalayan nation.

    Landslides, floods and lightning have killed at least 193 people across Nepal since the beginning of monsoon in June [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]
    Landslides, floods and lightning have killed at least 193 people across Nepal since the beginning of monsoon in June [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

    Heavy rain in Nepal triggered landslides on Monday that killed at least eight workers at a construction site and two members of a family, taking the toll in floods, landslides and lightning to nearly 200 since late May.

    Bhagawati Nepal, deputy mayor of the affected Melamchi municipality, a small town about 50km (30 miles) to the north of Kathmandu, said all the deceased were workers involved in the construction of a community hall.

    She said the workers had been asleep when landslides buried their makeshift shelter at approximately 3am (21:15 GMT on Sunday).

    "Some of the deceased workers are believed to be seasonal migrants from India. We are trying to verify their identity," Nepal said. An Indian worker who was rescued from the site has been airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment.

    Nepali government official Murari Wasti told Reuters "rescuers dug through the mud and took out all eight bodies".

    Landslides, floods and lightning have killed at least 193 people across Nepal since the beginning of the monsoon in June, according to Janardan Gautam of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA). At least 57 people remain missing.

    Weeks of rains have damaged roads, bridges and hydropower plants and have affected hundreds of thousands of people in some 50 districts, NDRRMA said.

    Flooding in South Asia

    Elsewhere in South Asia, the annual rainy season brought more misery with at least 135 people killed in Bangladesh since late June in the longest-running floods there in more than two decades, while floods have killed nearly 120 people and displaced millions in the Indian states of Assam and Bihar.

    nepal floods
    Rains have damaged roads, bridges and hydropower plants and affected hundreds of thousands of people in some 50 districts, according to NDRRMA [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

    The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has also been hit, with four soldiers killed there last month while rescuing villagers trapped in floods, officials said.

    The conditions have complicated the poor region's efforts to fight the novel coronavirus, especially in densely populated Bangladesh, which has reported a total of 240,746 infections and 3,154 deaths.

    More than 1 million people are marooned in Bangladesh, and thousands of hectares of land have been submerged, forcing more than 60,000 into crowed shelters, said Enamur Rahman, junior minister of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry.

    "This is really challenging," he said, while adding that efforts were being made to maintain social distancing.

    The runoff from heavy rain across Indian mountains had pushed levels of many of Bangladesh's rivers into the danger zone, said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, executive engineer at the Bangladesh Water Development Board, contributing to the worst flooding since 1998.

    SOURCE: News agencies