Landslide Kills At Least 8 in Nepal, Death Toll Could Skyrocket

By Eric Zerkel
Published: August 3, 2014

At least 8 people are dead and unknown number of others trapped after a landslide struck multiple villages in Nepal Sunday.

The death toll could skyrocket as the situation progresses. Police official Bharat Bahadur Bohara told Reuters that authorities don't have a firm grasp how many people were missing beneath the rubble because so many structures remained buried Sunday afternoon.

"The landslide has caused huge damage. We cannot make any estimates of the number of deaths now. We are looking for other people who might be trapped," Bahadur Bohara told Reuters.

One survivor told the Associated Press that "dozens" of homes in at least two villages were buried beneath the landslide.

"There are nearly 100 people in the 60 houses in my village and 20 more people in the neighboring village who were buried by the landslide. All of them are likely dead," Durga Lal Shrestha told The Associated Press.

Worse yet, the mass of earth clogged the Sunkoshi River, causing a 2-mile-long lake to form behind the wall of debris. Water levels are slowly rising behind the wall. If the temporary dam were to burst, the water could inundate and destroy other villages in the area causing more loss of life.

As a result, government officials ordered the army to conduct a controlled release of water from the lake using explosives. According to local media reports, citizens living downstream from the blockage were ordered to evacuate.

The landslide hit at around 3 a.m. local time, in the Sindhupalchowk area of northern Nepal, roughly 75 miles to the east of the capital city of Kathmandu. Locals reported hearing, and feeling, the earth move around them before the cataclysm unfolded.

"The walls in my house caved in, but the roof was fine and that is how we were able to survive," Durga Lal Shrestha said. "When we came out, it was dark and muddy. Everyone was screaming and it was a chaotic situation."

At least 40 people were injured, several of which were flown via helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu for treatment.

According to meteorologist Linda Lam, multiple days of rain could have triggered the landslide.

"Rain has been reported in the region for much of this week, with heavier rain reported Wednesday and again Friday night into Saturday morning, Lam said. "One station in the area reported over 4" of rain this past week and another location saw almost 2" of rain Friday night into Saturday morning."

The event comes just days after another catastrophic landslide wiped out a village in western India. At least 63 people were killed, and dozens of others still missing, in that incident.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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