Flood fears in Karnali after water level drops

  • Riverside settlers alerted about possible blockage
- POST REPORT, Nepalgunj
Flood fears in Karnali after water level drops

Mar 3, 2015-

Thousands of people living in the downstream villages of Karnali River Basin were put on high alert on Tuesday morning after the water volume in one of the two tributaries of the country’s longest river dropped significantly, raising fears of possible damming upstream.

Locals along with authorities in Humla district rang alarm bells after Limi Khola, which flows into the Karnali, recorded a dramatic 80 percent drop in water levels since Tuesday morning. Limi and Muchu rivers feed the Karnali.

“We have suspected damming of the river in the high altitude region along the Nepal-China border after the water level dropped significantly in the rivers flowing in Humla. However, we are yet to ascertain whether the river is blocked due to an avalanche or has frozen,” said Keshab Adhikari, deputy inspector general of police in the mid-western region, who is updating the situation in Humla.

Due to remoteness and inaccessibility, compounded by adverse weather conditions, authorities are having difficulties ascertaining the exact situation and the reason behind. “We are unable to deploy helicopters carrying a survey team for site observation,” Adhikari added.

Around 435 houses in Limi and Muchu villages bordering the Tibet region of China may be vulnerable in case of a sudden rise in water flow. Limi is prone to glacial lake outburst floods. One such flood caused devastating impacts on the lives and properties there in 2011.

The upper mountainous regions in Karnali—Humla and Kalikot—have been receiving heavy rains and snow in the past week, with snow accumulating as thick as seven feet.

People living near riverbanks are said to have started ascending to safer places after the local administration alerted them through FM radios to move elsewhere.

According to Rameshwor Dangal, joint-secretary at the Home Ministry, satellite images also did not provide any clue to what exactly had happened in Humla. “Due to poor visibility and weather conditions, we were unable to locate the site and find the cause behind the dramatic drop in water level,” he said. “We guess the river might have been frozen.”

Due to flood fears, downstream villages in Achham, Bajura and even parts of Bardia have been alerted about possible dangers. Response teams, including of security personnel, have been formed to disseminate and share updates about the river’s condition, said Dangal. In Bardiya, the local administration has alerted people in possible impact zones about the threat, said Bardia Chief District Officer Narhari Baral.

Five dead, 4 missing as rain, snow cause havoc

KATHMANDU: At least five persons have died and four others gone missing in separate incidents caused by rain and snowfall in Mustang, Bajura and Kalikot districts in the past 24 hours.

Two persons froze to death due to heavy snowfall at Khiga in Mustang on Monday night. The victims, who had left Kagbeni for Muktinath, died after being caught in the snowfall. The deceased have been identified as Ramesh Budha of Nisi-4 in Baglung and Dipa BK of Rukum district. Security personnel, however, rescued Chet Bahadur Kami of Baglung from the area.

“The victims were on their way to Khiga which is a three-hour walk from Kagbeni. They were trapped in a thick blanket of snow and died of hypothermia,” said Govinda Prasad Pathak, deputy superintendent of police in Mustang. The bodies were dug out on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a German tourist and his Nepali guide, who had been stranded in Lomangthang for the past four days, were rescued by a helicopter on Tuesday. Two other Germans and a Nepali guide still await rescue.

In Bajura, four persons went missing in heavy snowfall at the Bhairi highland on Tuesday.

Kal Bahadur Shahi, Daman Bahadur Shahi, Birja Singh and San Shahi of Gotri VDC are out of contact, according to police. “A rescue team searched for them till the evening, to no avail,” said Police Inspector Amar Gopal Shrestha.

The victims were returning home from India to attend the wedding ceremony of a relative in the village.

Meanwhile, three members of a family were buried to death when a house collapsed following incessant rainfall at Thirpu-5 in Kalikot on Tuesday morning. Police identified the dead as Dal Bahadur Rokaya, his wife Mansara and their seven-year-old daughter Sabitri.

36 trapped workers rescued

KANCHANPUR: Security personnel rescued 36 workers who had been trapped in an island in the middle of the Makahali river at Airighat, Kanchanpur, on Tuesday. The team of Nepal Army and Armed Police Force rescued the victims using boats. They had reached the middle of the river to collect sand and aggregate but were unable to return after the water level rose following incessant rainfall. Besides, Indian authorities had opened the floodgates of the Banbasa Bridge.

Published: 04-03-2015 08:50

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