DEHRADUN: More than 100 people have died in several days of massive flooding and devastating landslides that swept away roads and houses in India and Nepal, officials said Wednesday (Oct 20), with scores more missing.
In Uttarakhand in northern India, officials said that 46 people had died in recent days with 11 missing. In Kerala in the south chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the death toll had hit 39 there.
At least 30 of those in Uttarakhand were killed in seven separate incidents in the Nainital region early Tuesday, after cloudbursts - an ultra-intense deluge of rain - triggered a series of landslides and destroyed several structures.
Five of the dead were from a single family whose house was buried by a massive landslide, local official Pradeep Jain told AFP.
Another landslide in the northern Almora district killed five people after huge rocks and a wall of mud demolished and engulfed their home.
At least six others were killed on Monday in two remote districts of the Himalayan state.
The Indian Meteorological Department extended and widened its weather alert on Tuesday, predicting heavy to very heavy rainfall in the region.
The weather office said several areas were drenched by more than 400mm of rainfall on Monday, causing landslides and flooding.
Authorities ordered the closure of schools and banned all religious and tourist activities in the state.
Television footage and social media videos showed residents wading through knee-deep water near Nainital lake, a tourist hotspot, and the Ganges bursting its banks in Rishikesh.
More than 100 tourists were stuck inside a resort in Ramgarh after the overflowing Kosi river deluged several areas.
Police in Nepal said on Wednesday that at least 43 people have died and another 30 are missing after three days of heavy rainfall triggered landslides and flash floods .
Police spokesman Basanta Kunwar said more than two dozen people have been injured and are undergoing treatment in local hospitals across the mostly mountainous country.
Persistent heavy rains were hampering efforts to reach to a village in west Nepal where 60 people have been marooned by flood waters for two days at Seti village, about 350km west of the capital Kathmandu.
“Rescuers were unable to reach the village due to bad weather and continuous rains yesterday. Rescue efforts are continuing today,” Kunwar told Reuters.
Television channels showed footage of rice paddy crops submerged or washed away and flooded rivers sweeping away bridges, roads and houses.
Authorities have warned of more rainfall in the next few days.
There are “chances of heavy rainfall in some places and light to moderate snowfall” in the eastern mountainous areas, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology said in a forecast for the next two days.
Landslides are a regular danger in the Himalayan region, but experts say they are becoming more common as rains become increasingly erratic and glaciers melt.
Experts also blame construction work on hydroelectric dams and deforestation.
In February, a ferocious flash flood hurtled down a remote valley in Uttarakhand, killing around 200 people. At least 5,700 people perished there in 2013.
Forecasters have also warned of more downpours in the coming days in Kerala.
Many dams in the state were nearing the danger mark and authorities were evacuating thousands to safer locations as major rivers overflowed.
India's weather office said heavy rains will again lash the state in the next two days after a brief reprieve on Tuesday.
In 2018, almost 500 people died in the coastal state in the worst flooding in a century.