Monsoon death toll doubles in three days due to incessant rainfall

Published On: July 8, 2024 09:15 AM NPT By: Sara Pahari

Govt sets up toll-free numbers 1155 for flood and rain information and 1149 for rescue assistance 

KATHMANDU, July 8: Since the onset of the monsoon, a total of 62 people have died, with four people reported missing, and 90 others injured due to monsoon-induced disasters like floods, landslides, and lightning. 

The death toll has almost doubled in the last few days as incessant rainfall wreaked havoc across the country.

As of July 5, only 28 people had lost their lives, one person was reported missing, and 25 others were injured in monsoon-related incidents. Since then, heavy and continuous rainfall has worsened the condition in most parts of the country.

The latest figures including the death toll were confirmed by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) and the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the NEOC, floods have claimed lives in various districts, including Morang, Dang, Kailali, Kavrepalanchok, Udayapur, and Palpa, resulting in a total of 9 deaths and leaving two people missing. The floods have also caused significant property damage, with 5 houses completely washed away and 11 houses partially damaged.

Landslides have been even more deadly, causing 34 fatalities and injuring 38 individuals. They have also resulted in extensive damage to infrastructure, with 43 houses completely destroyed, 24 houses partially damaged and 19 sheds affected. Additionally, 12 people sustained injuries due to landslides.

Lightning strikes have added to the toll, claiming 19 lives and injuring 35 people.

The economic toll from these disasters is substantial, with damages estimated at Rs 86 million due to floods and landslides alone. These events underscore the urgent need for relief efforts and heightened preparedness measures to mitigate the impact of natural disasters in Nepal.

"Monsoon-related incidents such as floods, landslides, inundation and lightning are still increasing, we are moving forward by coordinating and cooperating with the relevant agencies to reduce the damage," said Dr Dijan Bhattarai, spokesperson for the NDRRMA, "This year, it is estimated that there will be more than average rainfall and 1.8 million people will be affected. So, it is necessary to be cautious.''

Sunil Pokharel, the spokesperson for the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, said that the risk of flooding will decrease throughout the country from Monday.

According to the Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal of the Ministry of Home Affairs, landslides have occurred in 110 places in the country in a week. It is necessary to make the prediction of landslides like floods effective, said Subodh Dhakal.

Pay special attention while traveling as there is a high chance of landslides on the highway. If there is a crack in the ground, we should immediately drain the water," he said, adding, “If you hear a strange crackling sound on the ground, it may be a sign of a landslide, so you should be alert and report it.”

27 road sections blocked

The Kanti Highway in Lalitpur's Bagmati Rural Municipality is impassable due to landslides. Meanwhile, flooding has blocked the Dakshin Koshi highway in Sankhuwasabha's Makalu Rural Municipality, and Koshi Road in Bhotkhola Rural Municipality is completely submerged. In Sunsari's Barahakshetra Municipality-1, landslides have obstructed the internal road of Chatra-Barahakshetra. The Syafrubesi-Thambuchet road section in Rasuwa is also fully blocked by landslides. In Chitwan, the Prithviraj Highway operates one-way due to a landslide in Ichchakamana Rural Municipality-3, and the Bhimphedi-Kathmandu-Hetauda highway in Makwanpur is similarly affected by landslides. Moreover, one-way traffic is in place on the Kanti Highway. The BP Highway in Kavre's Roshi Rural Municipality is also operating one-way due to the impacts of landslides.

Likewise, in Manang, the Chame-Besisahar road section is fully blocked by flooding in Chame Rural Municipality, while landslides have rendered the Beni-Darbang road impassable in Myagdi's Beni Municipality-4, while the Beni-Jomsom road is also obstructed. Additionally, the Muldhunga Beni Road is operating under one-way traffic. In Tanahun's Myamde Rural Municipality, the Prithviraj Highway is operating one-way due to landslides. Furthermore, the Kaligandaki Corridor in Nawalparasi East and the Mid-Hill Highway in Baglung are completely blocked by landslides.

Pyuthan's Syauliwa Bagdula and Bhaluwang-Dang-Pyuthan road sections are blocked due to floods and landslides; while in Palpa, Siddhartha Highway, Tamghas-Butwal road, and Kaligandaki Corridor are all operating one-way. The Ridi-Baglung road section in Gulmi, Madan Bhandari Highway, and Gorusinge-Sandhikharka road section in Arghakhanchi, as well as the Palpa-Arghakhanchi road section are also blocked. Rolpa's Shahid Highway and Dang's Ghorahi-Tulsipur road section have been reduced to one-way traffic due to natural disasters.

The Karnali Highway in Kalikot is blocked. Achham's Sanfe-Martadi, Baitadi's Jaya Prithvi Highway and Dadeldhura's Bhimdatta Highway have been completely blocked. According to the Nepal Police, Bajhang-Khodpe-Baitadi road section of Baitadi and Sanfe-Martadi road section of Bajura are operating one-way.

Impact on domestic flights, reduced airfares

The onset of monsoon and fewer foreign tourists have significantly impacted domestic flights in Nepal, resulting in a 30 percent drop in passenger occupancy and reduced fares.

Yeti Airlines reported maintaining 70 percent occupancy over the past month, serving 2,200 passengers daily amid the off-season and reduced tourist arrivals due to rain. Sudarshan Bartaula, head of flight security and spokesperson for Yeti Airlines said, "Now the off-season is ongoing in the domestic aviation industry. With the drop in arrival of foreign tourists due to the rains, we are not expecting much business now.”

Buddha Air's occupancy has decreased by 8 percent, with the airline now serving 7,000 passengers daily. Sales and Marketing Director Rupesh Joshi said, “This is the off-season. With the onset of monsoon, occupancy will further decrease.” 

Similarly, Shree Airlines, which usually serves over 1,500 passengers daily, is now serving about 1,200 passengers daily. Spokesperson Anil Manandhar mentioned merging flights during the rainy season. 

Due to lower occupancy, airlines have also reduced the fares.

All sluice gates of Gandak and Koshi barrages opened

All the gates of Gandak barrage have been opened after the water level in Narayani river rose above the warning level. At 7:00 AM on Sunday, the flow of water in Gandak barrage was measured at 440,750 cusecs.

Similarly, the water level in the Saptakoshi River has continued to rise with incessant rainfall for the past few days, prompting the local administration to open all 56 sluice gates of the Koshi barrage. According to Chief District Officer of Sunsari, Ramchandra Tiwari, the flow of water in the river has been measured at 368,000 cusecs per hour at the Koshi barrage. The monitoring of the flow of water from the official level has been continued. Red lights are on to indicate the highest danger level from the river. According to the Saptakoshi Water Measurement Center, the flow of water in the river has exceeded the warning levels.

3.4 million flood alerts sent via SMS in a single day

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, in partnership with Nepal Telecom and Ncell, has sent out an unprecedented 3.4 million SMS alerts within 24 hours to inform the public about flood, landslide, and rain threats across Nepal. Sunil Pokharel, the department’s spokesperson, said that the initiative aims to minimize financial losses and raise public awareness, particularly in flood-prone regions. This effort is part of a broader strategy to disseminate timely weather updates, with plans to send a total of 9 million SMS messages this monsoon season. Additionally, toll-free numbers 1155 for flood and rain information and 1149 for rescue assistance have been set up to aid in disaster response efforts.

PM urges entire state bodies to focus on safety of citizens from monsoon hazards

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has directed the state's entire authorities to solely focus on the protection of lives of people affected by monsoon floods, disasters, and inundation. Taking updates about the losses caused by the monsoon from the Singha Durbar-based control room on Sunday, the Prime Minister instructed all the state's bodies to work for the rescue and relief of those citizens affected by the incidents of natural disasters. Grieving the losses of lives and properties in monsoon disasters in different parts of the country, the head of the government expressed worries about the significant loss from the monsoon-triggered hazards this time. He called on all the government entities to respond with full strength for the safety of the people and for the mitigation of potential losses. Urging citizens to remain alert to possible disasters, he called upon the political parties, civil society leaders, and social organizations to join hands to mitigate the disaster risks and ensure the safety of the citizens.

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