Cold spell claims 13 lives in Tarai

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 7, 2018-

A cold wave has been blamed for at least 13 lives in several districts, mainly in the plains, as a drop in temperatures since last week continues to hit people across the country.

A cold spell has killed the highest number of people—nine—in Saptari district, three in Rautahat and one in Dhading districts so far.

Three people—Lakhan Thakur (60) of Agnisaair Krishnasavarn Rural Municipality, and Shivu Mandal (35) and Sujan Thakur (55) of Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality—died on Friday and Saturday, according to DSP Dhruva Kumar Shrestha of the Saptari District Police Office.

Others who fell victim to severe cold earlier this week were Sukdev Yadav of Mahadeva Rural Municipality-1, and Kaili Devi Khang (65) and Najo Begum (60) of wards 10 and 2, respectively, in Rajbiraj Municipality.

Daily wage workers Kuldip Ray (36) and Ram Dayal Ram (35) and Rajiya Devi Ray (72) died due to freezing conditions. All the deceased were from Chhinamasta Rural Municipality-1 of Saptari.

Plummeting temperatures and thick blankets of fog have badly affected life in the district as markets and roads wear a deserted look. The district administration has decided to shut all the 412 community schools for the next four days. The spell of chill has also caused sickness in people with cases of common cold, pneumonia and fever being reported in increased numbers at the district hospitals.

In order to help residents, especially the poor and the marginalised, cope with cold, 4,600 pieces of blanket have been distributed among the poor, said Saptari District Administration Officer Bhagirath Pandey.

Another Tarai district worst hit by adverse weather in the past few days is Rautahat where three persons have died.

According to the Rautahat District Police Office, all those succumbing to cold were from poor families that had migrated to the district for employment opportunities.

The victims have been identified as Maharjan Thakur Hajam (55) of Gadhimai Municipality-4, Ayodhi Ray Yadav (75) of Rajdevi Municipality-7 and Nek Mohammad Ali, police said. Originally from Sarlahi, Ali had been working at a brick kiln in Gadhimai Municipality.

The increasing cold in the plains has affected Dalits, elderly people, children and poor families the most. Domestic animals have also been affected.

The District Disaster Management Committee has decided to distribute logs to all the villages and towns in the district. According to Dirgha Narayan Koirala, chief of the district forest office, firewood was being distributed in all the 18 local federal units—16 municipalities and two rural municipalities.

“We are distributing wood to the local councils for nominal price,” said Koirala, adding that 12 local units had collected logs from the forest office so far.

Normal life has been affected badly in other districts as well. As temperature plummets, one person has died each in Dhanusha and Bara districts. Public schools have already been shut in Dhanusha, Siraha and Rautahat districts while mobility has been affected across the Tarai. Children and senior citizens in Parsa are bearing the brunt as the mercury continues to drop.

In Nawalparasi, wage workers and farmers have been confined to their homes due to an extreme cold outside caused by a thick blanket of fog that bars sunlight.

“This is the season for irrigating wheat fields, harvesting sugarcane and cultivating vegetables,” said Rajeev Kushwaha of Parasi, expressing his frustration that they were unable to venture out due to the chill.

Poor visibility has disturbed traffic along the East-West highway, making roads prone to accidents.

In Rautahat alone, five road accidents occurred, killing one person and critically injuring five in the past week, according to a traffic official.

Surendra Mainali, chief of the Mid-regional Traffic Police, Pathalaiya, said a total of 13 road accidents have been recorded in six districts of Province 2 since the cold spell began. A total of seven people were killed in the accidents.

“The number of accidents has gone up due to fog. Drivers cannot see clearly vehicles coming from the opposite direction,” said Mainali. “The whole of Province 2 has been affected badly.”

Over the years, cold wave has emerged as one of the biggest threats to public life in the Tarai. In 2013, a period of cold weather claimed nearly 50 lives. At least 26 people died of cold-related ailments during the winter of 2014.

The phenomenon gets more intense each passing year, according to Rishi Ram Sharma, director general of the Department Of Hydrology and Meteorology.

“We first witnessed a cold wave in 1995. Since then cold spells have been getting 

longer and stronger, affecting public in general due to a sudden drop in temperature and formation of thick fog,” said Sharma, advising people to have hot drinks and wear warm clothes to protect themselves.


Killer cold

  • Cold wave kills the highest number of people—nine—in Saptari district, three in Rautahat and one in Dhading
  • Plummeting temperatures and thick blankets of fog have badly affected life in the Tarai as markets and roads wear a deserted look
  • People suffering from common cold, pneumonia and fever
  • In Rautahat, those succumbing to cold are from poor migrant families
  • Increasing cold affects Dalits, elderly people, children and poor families the most

Published: 07-01-2018 07:37

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