Floods claim 57 lives across country

  • Unusual weather phenomenon hits all of the country, inundating whole of Tarai and affecting the Hills as well
Weathermen say extreme rainfall, starting from eastern Nepal, witnessed in the last few days was caused by formation of a low pressure zone over the hills

Aug 14, 2017-Massive floods following incessant rains in the past few days have claimed 57 lives while thousands have been displaced across the country.

According to the Home Ministry, at least 57 people have died while 23 are still missing in landslides and floods in the last three days. The monsoon havoc which started on Friday has affected districts spanning from the eastern, central to the western regions.

A total of 34,843 houses were inundated across the plains. More than 1,000 houses were destroyed in floods that killed an estimated 400 livestock.   

Eastern districts of Jhapa, Sunsari, Morang, Saptari and central districts of Sarlahi, Bara, Makawanpur, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Rautahat, Dhanusha were the most affected. In the mid-western region, Dang, Banke, Bardiya and Surkhet are highly affected.

According to the latest data, the highest casualties were reported in Sunsari where eight people died and six are missing in floods, followed by seven in Rautahat, five in Morang, four each in Jhapa, Sindhuli, and three each in Banke, Bara, Sarlahi, Dang and Surkhet.

Many villages and major cities of the Tarai have been inundated. Road networks have been cut off as floods have swept away sections of the East-West Highway.

While rainfall is likely to continue in the next few days, as predicted by the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD), thousands of people including the elderly and children have been displaced. 

Weathermen have said the extreme rainfall, starting from eastern Nepal, witnessed in the last few days was caused by the formation of a low pressure zone over the hills.

According to meteorologist Barun Paudel, heavy rainfall was supported by three factors: movement of the low pressure line, also called monsoon trough, closer to Nepal; presence of a low pressure system over the Chure and mid-Hills; and the entry of moisture from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Shifting of monsoon trough closer and away from Nepal is a common phenomenon. However, this time it extended from East to West, which caused heavy rains throughout the country.

Water resources analyst Ajay Dixit said the torrential rain was potentially caused by the spatial extension of the low pressure system from eastern India to Nepal.

Rajendra Sharma, a senior divisional hydrologist at the Flood Forecasting Section of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DoHM), said that cloudburst, a phenomenon of extreme 

rainfall within a short period of time, has been observed in the past as well.

“This system is likely to contribute 70 to 80 percent of the annual rainfall this year,” Sharma shared his estimate.

According to the DoHM data, the country received in July 1993 its record rainfall of 540mm in 24 hours with the highest hourly precipitation of 70mm. Presently, the West Rapti at Kusum station recorded 424mm rain within eight hours, which shows the precipitation was stronger than in the past, according to the meteorologist.

Similar amount of rainfall was witnessed during the Bardiya flood in 2014 that affected 165,000 people, killing 32. Unlike the latest event, the low pressure system was concentrated in the western region, causing a massive flood in the particular area.

As shown by the DoHM data for 1971-2014, though the total annual rainfall has been constant, the gap between dry and rainy days has gone up. The country has been receiving more amount of rainfall in a short period of time, which could unleash dangerous floods, say meteorologists.

According to agricultural scientists, heavy rainfall is not healthy for paddy since frequent rain is more significant. Senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute Nepal Bhola Man Singh Basnet said this flood would hit paddy production this year.

“As most of the districts with the highest rate of paddy production have been hit hard, paddy output will go down,” said Basnet.

Small and medium rivers across Tarai have caused problems this year. “We have completely disregarded small and medium rivers while only caring about major ones,” said Dixit.

The weather is likely to improve mainly in the eastern and central parts from Monday, said Paudel. Light to moderate rainfall is forecast for different parts of the country while the western and far-western districts will receive heavy rains.

People living close to Bagmati, East Rapti, Riukhola, Binay Khola, Arun Khola, Tinau, Banganga, Ratu, Kamala, West Rapti 

and Babai rivers have been alerted against danger as the water level might swell due to heavy rains.


Free SMS service

SMS services have been made free in flood-affected areas, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications. Secretary Mahendra Bahadur Gurung said all telecom service providers would waive SMS charges to aid people caught in floods and landslides across the country.

Published: 14-08-2017 07:51

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