Nearly 200 people have died in floods and landslides in India and Nepal, officials said on Thursday (21 October), with whole families buried in their homes and two young girls swept away as forecasters warned of yet more heavy rain.
Experts say that they were victims of the ever-more unpredictable and extreme weather that has hit South Asia in recent years caused by climate change and exacerbated by deforestation, damming and excessive development.
The unusually late deluge of rain in the region saw Nepal record the sharpest rise in casualties overnight, with 88 people now dead, among them a family of six whose house was obliterated by an avalanche of soil and debris.
In the Himalayan northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, some parts of which recorded the most rain in more than a century, 55 people were confirmed on Thursday to have died. They included five people from a single family whose house was buried by a massive landslide.
Many bridges and roads have been damaged and many towns have been cut off, and the army has been brought in to restore contact and reach thousands of people stranded. Thousands were without power.
In Kerala in southern India, where 42 people have died since last week, forecasters issued warnings of heavy rains in at least three districts in the state after a respite in recent days.
The flooding in the state adjoining the Arabian Sea – which scientists say is warming – has revived memories of 2018, when nearly 500 people perished in the worst flooding there in a century.
The Red Cross said its teams were helping with relief efforts in both countries and warning people living further downstream of further threats from rising floodwaters and landslides.
‘Crops and homes have been wiped out, which is a severe blow to families already grappling with the devastating fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ it said. ‘The people of Nepal and India are sandwiched between the pandemic and worsening climate disasters, heavily impacting millions of lives and livelihoods.’
For more information, go to www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/india-nepal-flood-landslide-nearly-200-dead-extreme-weather-2258556