India evacuates 60,000 after deadly landslide

The River Sunkoshi raged on Monday near the site of a massive landslide in Mankha village, east of Katmandu.
Niranjan Shrestha /Associated Press
The River Sunkoshi raged on Monday near the site of a massive landslide in Mankha village, east of Katmandu.

PATNA, India — Rescue workers urgently removed about 60,000 of people in eastern India on Monday after a deadly landslide in neighboring Nepal blocked a river that could burst its banks and submerge scores of Indian villages.

Authorities in Nepal said there is no hope that more than 150 missing people are still alive after being buried by rocks, mud, and trees in Saturday’s landslide in Mankha, 75 miles east of Katmandu. Nineteen others are confirmed dead.

But as disaster workers continued to clear debris Monday, the danger area moved downstream to eastern India, where 125,000 people are in peril.


The landslide blocked a river in Nepal, causing it to back up and form a massive lake that is threatening to overflow.

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‘‘We are keeping our fingers crossed right now,’’ said Aniruddh Kumar, a senior disaster management official in India’s Bihar state. He said it was not clear how much water might come down from the lake. Nepal’s army triggered three explosions Saturday to allow some water to flow out, but much remains trapped.

Kumar said Bihar state has asked all government doctors and civil officials in threatened areas to cancel vacation plans. Indian soldiers, as well as air force helicopters and jets, were on standby. The local government also invoked a law allowing authorities to forcibly evacuate villagers who refuse to leave. The government has so far evacuated 60,000 people and set up 120 relief camps. All public schools in the area have been closed to provide space to house evacuees.

The annual June-to-September monsoon season is vital for the agrarian economies of South Asia but also brings floods and landslides.

Another landslide hit a village in eastern Nepal Monday, killing four people and leaving six missing. And the death toll from a massive landslide in western India last week rose to 108, according to rescue official Sandeep Rai Rathore.


India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, on Monday completed a two-day trip to Nepal aimed at boosting ties with a country that India has long ignored and where China already has a strong presence.