At least 27 people have been killed and more than 400 have been injured in a severe rainstorm that swept through parts of southern Nepal on Sunday.
Officials said police and rescue personnel had been dispatched to the villages in Bara and Parsa districts, but reaching the victims was a challenge during the night.
According to Chief District Officer Rajesh Poudel in Bara. “We have been coordinating with the local representatives to make use of readily available resources for rescue work,” “We have yet to identify those who have been killed.”
Provincial officials on Monday launched a disaster relief fund under the chief minister’s office and appealed for help in providing immediate relief to victims.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said rescue teams from Nepal Police, the Army and the Armed Police Force had been deployed overnight. Oli said the government was dispatching night vision helicopters to the affected areas as soon as weather conditions on the ground improved.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office said Oli was postponing all his scheduled programs for the day and flying to the affected areas to monitor relief efforts. Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut, Province 3 Chief Minister Dor Mani Paudel and other ministers are also leaving for Province 2 to take stock of the rainstorm affected areas.
Meanwhile, hospitals in both districts have been overwhelmed by hundreds of injured. More than 200 victims have been admitted to Kalaiya Hospital, which has only five doctors on duty. The bodies of dead have been piling up at the Narayani Hospital, National Medical College and Healthcare Hospital in neighbouring Birgunj.
Hospital workers in the districts said many of the victims had not eaten anything because the rainstorms hit just ahead of dinner time. Police and Army personnel had been distributing tea and biscuits to the injured as they lined up along the hospital corridors.
Most of the affected homes were made from mud and collapsed when electricity poles and trees fell on them. Officials said the injured were being brought to a hospital by cars and ambulances, but rescue work was being hampered by dozens of trees that have blocked the road.
A local lawmaker who visited the affected area described the moment the storm swept homes in the villages as unlike anything he has seen before.
“When I reached one of the villages at night, the roofs in almost all of the homes had been blown away, walls had crumbled and belongings inside the homes had flown all over the place,” said Paras Sah.
According to Dipendra Jha, the chief attorney for Province 2, Bhaluhi, Bharbaliya and Chainpur are the most affected villages in Bara. Local police officials said as rescue work continues, they fear the number of dead could rise.