Flood leaves 17 dead and 47 missing in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal— Seventeen people died and 47 went missing in a flash flood triggered by the bursting out of Seti River clogged by debris from an avalanche near the base camp of Mt. Fish Tail following continuous rains Saturday. 

The death toll could go higher as the chances to rescue the missing alive were slim, said the officials. The police said five people, swept by the floods, were rescued.

The floods devastated Kharapani of Sardi Khola and Sadal of Machhapuchhre VDC, Deputy Inspector General Rajendra Singh Bhandari said. The injured are undergoing treatment in Pokhara hospitals. 

Several houses including a small market place of Kharapani and Hemja villages were swept away by the floods.

The avalanche that occurred at a height of 11,000 ft brought the debris into the deep Seti River and blocked it, battalion commnader of Nepal Army Victor  Rana said quoting locals. He said the possibility of further flooding was nil. 

In Kharapani, according to local Pritharaj Acharya, 10 houses, including two concrete structures, were washed away and the market was inundated by the muddy water. 

Five bodies, of the 17 recovered, have been identified so far. Gopal Tamrakar, 70, of Kharapani and Archana Shrestha, a student of La Grande College, were identified. Shrestha, with her friends, was on a picnic. 

Among the missing were Chet Bahadur Thapa, another student of the college, Dhunge Budha, 60, Dorje Tamang, 55, Chasme Budha, 60, and Bishnu Gurung, 40, of Machhapuchhre. 

According to police, four tourists also went missing in the floods. Three from Ukraine, Dubinsskiy Oleksander, Polon Chuk All and Ivan Mola Knov, were swept by Sardi Khola and one was missing from Dobilla. 

The floods swept away three trucks and a tractor carrying sand from the river. 

Earlier, when locals heard thunders before the floods, they suspected the glacier lake outburst up in the mountains.

Rana said it was not the bursting out of a glacier lake but an avalanche brought debris which blocked the river, causing floods when its was swept away. 

When the local media reported about the incident, Pokhara was gripped in panic. Crowds gathered in Simpani, Mahendra Pul, and Prithvi Chowk, among other places, to learn about it. 

Traffic system was thrown out of gear. Seti River was bringing large logs and debris along, causing fear among the local residents. Rescue helicopters from Nepal Army allayed their fears. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Sunday inspected the areas affected by Saturday’s massive flash floods on Seti River in Kaski district. 

The devastating flood was unleashed after bursting of the river that was blocked by an avalanche from the Annapurna mountainous range.  

Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai was accompanied by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Maoist Politburo member Hisila Yami, Chief Government Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire and Secretary of Home Ministry Sushil Jung Rana.   

Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had also expressed shock at the incident and extended condolences to those killed in the floods. 

In a press statement released in the evening, Dr. Bhattarai said that the government mobilized army and police personnel to work with the locals in the rescue operations. 

He said that he instructed the Home Ministry to keep tab on the situation and provide regular update to the locals. He also appreciated the local people for their cooperation in the rescue. 

Relatives of those who went missing were seen visiting the police offices and hospitals to find their bodies.

news@theasian.asia

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