07/09/2016, 09.42
NEPAL
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Torrential rains and landslides, hundreds of families flee border with China

by Christopher Sharma

Incessant rains flood rivers and lakes, dragging stones from the mountains to the valley. Some villages have been swept away. Unknown number of dead or missing. Nepalese authorities: "Rescue operations are very difficult, the situation is not under control." Some residents accuse Beijing: "They knew the risks but did not warn anyone."

 

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of families living on the border between Nepal and China have been caught by surprise by torrential rains that caused landslides in the surrounding mountains and flooding of rivers and lakes. Several villages have been swept away, the road linking the two countries (the most widely used commercial route) is damaged and unpassable. The rain shows no sign of easing and is making rescue operations difficult.

According to the locals the Chinese authorities were aware of the precarious condition of the rivers and lakes, but failed to tell the nearby villages of the risks they ran. Man Bir Shretha, resident of the Tatopani area, says; "The Chinese authorities have been working to reduce the risks. They held their information secret and finally the incessant rain has caused the flooding of the lakes. If residents had been warned, they could have made it to safety".

According Tendup Sherpa, "more than 200 families have fled their homes. Dozens of homes have been washed away by the floods and landslides. We are waiting for relief. The Bhotekoshi River, which originates in China and flows in Nepal, has damaged the road for at least 26 kilometers. "

Manoj Thapa is a police officer who is following relief efforts: "It is difficult to reach affected people and their homes - he says - because the rain keeps falling and the roads have been made unpassable. We mobilized our men but we have no idea how many dead or missing there may be. We fear they are many. "

The road that connects Nepal and China will be closed for at least two weeks, according to the estimates of workers: "We cannot repair it now given the conditions - they say - and Chepsang River makes the situation worse by overflowing and dragging boulders down from the mountains."

The Chinese authorities have responded by temporarily closing the border. Srijana Lama, a local resident, said: "The bridge linking the two countries is seriously damaged manner and the whole area is at high risk. There is no one there. "

Sherdhan Rai, spokesman for the government in Kathmandu, admits that "we are all a bit 'confused by what is going on and the situation is not yet under control. We mobilized our forces and asked for help from our neighbors in China".

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