Kathmandu, Nepal: At least 99 people have died since Monday in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains in Nepal.
In neighboring India, heavy rains this week have also wreaked havoc, killing at least 88 people while flooding roads, destroying bridges and causing landslides that have washed away many homes.
Police in Nepal said rescue teams were searching for at least 40 people reported missing, raising fears that the death toll could rise.
Police spokesman Basant Bahadur Kunwar said most of the deaths occurred in the eastern and western regions of the country, which received heavy rains this week.
“Search and rescue teams are evacuating people to safer places and taking the injured to hospitals,” he said.
At least 35 injured in the rain have been rescued and are in hospital.
“Crops and houses have been wiped out, which is a serious blow to families already grappling with the devastating fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Azmat Ulla of the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies in Nepal. Red Cross teams are helping to evacuate people in both countries.
“The people of Nepal and India are caught between the pandemic and worsening climate disasters, affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people,” he said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba visited flood-affected areas in the western region and directed officials to focus on speedy rescue, relief and rehabilitation of vulnerable people.
Officials are still trying to ascertain the number of displaced families and the full extent of the damage caused by the disasters.
Forecasts in Nepal are expecting moderate rain later on Thursday, but the weather is expected to improve by the end of the week.
There has been worrying rain in many areas in India this week. At least 46 people have died in the northern state of Uttarakhand and 42 in the southern state of Kerala in floods and landslides triggered by last week’s rain, which is on alert for more rain in the coming days.
Landslides and floods are common in the Himalayan north of India. Scientists say they are happening more often because global warming contributes to the melting of glaciers there.
In February, flash floods killed nearly 200 people and washed away homes in Uttarakhand. In 2013, thousands of people died in floods there.