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Search hampered for missing in Nepal

03 August 2014, 11:13

Katmandu - Fresh rainfall was hampering a search on Sunday for scores of villagers missing after a massive landslide in northern Nepal, where army troops used explosives to blast a river blockage in an attempt to release a dangerous water build-up.

Police said eight bodies had been recovered so far, but villagers say more than 100 people were thought to have been buried by the landslide that engulfed houses in Mankha village, about 120km east of Katmandu, on Saturday.

Renewed rain on Sunday was making it difficult for police and army rescuers to sift through the piles of mud and rocks in search of survivors, said police official Laxman Singh.

Controlled explosions by the army were able to knock down part of the earth wall that had blocked a river and created a temporary dam, allowing some water to flow out but much of it still remained trapped, posing an immediate threat to downstream villages as far as India.

The Arniko highway, which connects Nepal to Tibet, remained closed on Sunday.

Rainy season

In neighbouring India's Bihar state, officials were evacuating thousands of villagers along the Kosi River to higher ground because of the risk of flash floods coming from Nepal, said Anirudh Prasad, a government official in Patna, Bihar's capital.

Landslides are common in mostly mountainous Nepal during the rainy season, which runs from June through September.

A landslide in May 2012 killed at least 26 people when an avalanche blocked the Seti river in northwestern Nepal. The walls burst, causing a flash flood that swept through several downstream villages.

- AP


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