Landslip dams sunkoshi river

  • At least 8 killed, hundreds missing in disaster
  • Massive landslide fuels flash flood fears downstream
  • Entire Itani and Kagu settlements in Ramche VDC-5 swept away
  • 1 km Araniko Highway destroyed
  • Hundreds flee houses in Lamosanghu, Khadichaur, Andheri, Kothe, Balefi, Bhainse, Sukute and Chehere
Landslip dams sunkoshi river

Aug 3, 2014-

At least eight persons were killed and scores went missing when a massive landslide blocked Sunkoshi River at Mankha VDC on Saturday morning, the Home Ministry said. The landslide, which occurred at around 3 am, buried and swept a scanty village of around 60 households alongside the river. The toll is expected to rise as the number of casualties are yet to be ascertained.

8 killed, scores missing in Sunkoshi landslide


An entire 500 metre landmass in upper Itani of Ramche VDC 5 tumbled down early Sunday morning blocking the Sunkosi river at Jure in the district for over 12 hours until a Nepal Army team reached the site and carried out a controlled explosion easing the water flow in the afternoon.

The massive landslide swept away an entire settlement of an estimated 60 households. The rescue team recovered bodies of eight people from the debris while scores others are still missing.

Home Ministry officials said they have not been able to confirm the exact number of deaths and missing people yet. They said the death toll is expected to rise while the damage that may be caused by the outburst of the impounded water is beyond calculation.

The landslide has also damaged one kilometre section of the Arniko Highway at Dam Site in Mankha VDC bringing traffic along the road to a standstill.

Around 8 million cusec water is estimated to be collected in the river blocked by the debris. “This amount of water could be devastating if the lake outbursts,” said Professor Narendra Khanal at the Central Department of Geography at Tribhuvan University. “The crisis is not over. It all depends on how the water makes it way.”

According to Khanal, an outburst of the landslide dammed lake of this amount of water can affect at least 10 districts. Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Khotang, Bhojpur, Okhaldhunga, Sunsari and Saptari are that downstream districts that can be affected.

“For now all we could do is evacuate people to safe areas and drain the water safely so the number of casualties does not increase,” said Ajay Dixit, a water expert. He is as baffled as Khanal as to what triggered the landslide. The slope is prone to landslide as portion of debris used to fall every year. What they both knew for sure is an oversight of the government.  “We totally overlooked the need to monitor such disaster-prone areas, which is not a big deal these days,” said Khanal. He said the disaster is unpredictable but mitigation measures can help avert huge loss.

The rescue team has intensified search for the missing.  Home Ministry officials said the rescue team recovered eight bodies, including a minor, from the affected area. Nineteen people who were critically injured during the incident have been sent to the Capital for further treatment. The injured are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the Capital. Local people in Barhabishe, Lamesanghu, Khadichaur, Dolalghat, among other downstream areas, have moved to higher grounds fearing outburst anytime. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has directed the Home Ministry for the controlled release of water from the blocked river and save people and property.

The government has declared the downstream areas of Sunkoshi and Bhotekoshi rivers as crisis zone and alerted local administration for evacuation, relocation, rescue and other humanitarian assistance.

The government has also directed the Sunsari district administration to open all 56 gates of the Koshi Barrage to prevent any calamities in barrage area in case the lake formed by the landslide gives way.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is heading to Nepal on Sunday for a two-day visit, has expressed concerns over the incident. “He has directed that all possible help should be provided to the Bihar government and Nepal,” said a statement issued by his office on Saturday.

Home Ministry officials said the local authorities in eleven districts have already started evacuating local residents from the downstream areas.

“We are doing everything to minimise the risk and avert further possible threat to lives and public property,” said Yadav Koirala, MoHA joint-secretary.

Earlier in the afternoon, an emergency meeting of the Central Disaster Rescue Committee (CDRC) had concluded that these districts could be at risk given the quantity of water in the blocked the river.

The meeting chaired by Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam also alerted local administration, concerned ministries, government and non-governmental bodies to mobilise entire resources to tackle the crisis.

The ministry has also decided to ask assistance from Indian and Chinese government to minimise the risk. Home Ministry officials said the meeting decided to request assistance, including technical equipment, expertise and rescue team from the neighboring nations. NA personnel have been able to channel off nearly 80 percent river’s original flow till Sunday evening. Two explosives were detonated to channel off the water.

Around 700 army personnel are deployed at the site. NA said it has kept its personnel alert in other districts such as Sindhuli and Ramechhap in the region.

In Sindhuli, Deputy Superintendent of Police Narendra Upreti said 89 families of Kuleshwor, Jhagajholi, Khurkot and Gwaltar VDCs were evacuated to safe places.

In Ramechhap, Chief District Officer Shambhu Prasad Marasini said they have asked local people in around a dozen VDCs to move to safer places.

A meeting of the District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee has asked all sectors to remain on high alert. Marasini said security personnel and health workers are kept standby.

Two hundred and twenty five families in Okhaldhunga, Udayapur, Sunsari, Bhojpur and Saptari were evacuated to safer places, authorities concerned said.

‘We were numb with fear’

Van Bruyssel Antony, Belgian national

This was my first visit to Nepal and first encounter with a disaster. I work at a factory in Belgium. It was 2:30 in the morning. I was going through a text message sent by my friend from Belgium who had invited me for a party next week. Minutes after going through the message, I heard a huge uproar and deafening sound. I thought it was thunder, but it wasn’t. I had slept next to the wall. Suddenly there was a huge pressure there and I felt like the wall was pushing me. Later the house owners I was living with came out to see me. We were numb with fear. We could not fathom what was going on. We went out to the other house. Here I could see a man whose leg was completely sunk in rubbles apparently pebbles and stones. We managed to rescue him, however, we were searching for his wife and daughter and they were no were to be found. We were shovelling around hysterically throwing away rubbles and debris. We later found them dead. Inside the room it was all broken and cracks were visible everywhere in the house. There was a big hole by the window and one of the walls was gone. Outside the house was a big mess. There was a  man guy whom I rescued. He was crying feverishly. People who managed to survive had huddled together and were yelling and crying. I landed in Kathmandu in July 29. I visited Pokhara and Lumbini and wanted to see the boarder of China and Nepal. I came late by the bus to this place. All my belongings, including passport, have been lost in the disaster area. I had planned to fly to Delhi at 6pm today and fly to Belgium on Monday. I encountered disaster for the first time and hopefully last too. (As told to Manish Gautam)

‘Could hear people crying’

Indra Lal Shrestha

It was in the wee hours of Saturday and we realised too late that our walls were dug open by the heavy gush of water that started pouring inside. We have two houses in the area. I was living with my two daughter-in-laws and a granddaughter. All this happened out of blue. I lost one of my daughters and son-in-law along with my granddaughter. Also, my son and daughter-in-law are missing. I could hear sounds like a giant rollercoaster moving in our area. The land was shaking and in the dark we were helpless as to what could be done. I could just hear people yelling and crying in the dark. There was no light and we could neither ask anyone to come for help. I am happy that I could save my eight-year-old grandson. My other son, Durga Lal, is also fine. I think I am the unluckiest person to have lost all my dear ones. (As told to the Post)

Landslide dammed lakes in the past

(1967) Tarebhir, Budhigandaki: Nine persons died

(1968) Tarebhir, Budhigandaki: 24 houses damaged

1982) Balefi, Sindhupalchowk: 97 persons died, 15 houses destroyed

(1987) Sunkoshi, Sindhupalchowk: 98 people died

(1988) Darbang Bajar, Myagdi: 109 people died, 94 houses damaged

(1989) Tarukhola, Bajhang: 16 people died and four houses destroyed

(1996) Larcha, Sindhupalchowk: 54 persons died and 18 households destroyed

(2010) Madikhola, Kaski: Five people died and 61 families affected

People undergoing treatment in Kathmandu

Van Bruyssel Antony, 46, from Belgium

Ranjak Shrestha, 8

Durga Lal Shrestha, 42

Amar Shrestha, 27

Indra Lal Shrestha, 63

Avinash Shrestha, 10

Sushan Shrestha, 9 months

Tara Shrestha, 28

Subina Shrestha, 23

Bishnu Nepal, 45

Ritu Shrestha, 34

Samir Shrestha, 16

Sher Bahadur Tamang, 34

Sanju Tamang, 15

Kamala Parajuli, 42

Dil Bahadhur Shrestha

Suku Ram Danuwar, 41

Gaya Prasad Tharu, 38

Published: 03-08-2014 08:41

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