More Than 150 Feared Dead as Rainfall Hampers Search for Nepal Landslide Victims

By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
August 5, 2014; 5:05 AM ET
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Heavy rainfall hindered recovery efforts in northern Nepal on Sunday, after a deadly landslide claimed the lives of eight on Saturday morning, the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, more than 150 remain missing and are now feared dead after the landslide engulfed houses in Mankha village, which is about 75 miles east of Katmandu.

The fresh rainfall on Sunday was reportedly making it difficult for the rescuers to sift through piles of mud and rocks in search of survivors. However, outlook for recovery is bleak as a government official told The Times of India that there is "no chance" of finding the remaining victims who were trapped under the debris.

Nepalese soldiers search for bodies of victims beneath the debris after a massive landslide in village Mankha, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Katmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. Nepalese officials say there is no chance of finding any of the more than 150 people, who are believed to have been buried by the early Saturday landslide in northern Nepal. (AP Photo/Arpan Shrestha) Meteorologist Erik Pindrock said Mankha Village spans from about 2,900 feet in the lowest elevation up to around 5,900 feet at its highest elevation.

"With such a steep slope through the village, any kind of heavy rain and flooding would lead to a heightened risk of landslides and mudslides," he said.

The AP reported that the landslide blocked a river, which in turn formed a dam. Army troops used explosives in an attempt to blast through to wall to reduce the dangerous water buildup.

Fears of this water building up and being unleashed down the river have forced the evacuation of over 60,000 people down stream, while more than 65,000 additional people are still being urged to evacuate along the river's path.

Landslides: Where and Why They Occur
Death Toll Rises From Landslide in India
Nepal Weather Map

Pindrock said that Nepal is in the middle of its monsoon season, and that heavy rains this time of year are not unusual.

In addition to the monsoon, Pindrock said there is a disturbance that was spinning near Bangladesh late last week and into this weekend which is now slowly moving westward through eastern India.

The flow around this disturbance is pulling extra moisture northward from the Bay of Bengal and pushing it against the increasing terrain of Nepal.

"Consequently, scattered showers and thunderstorms with flooding downpours have resulted across portions of the more rugged terrain of Nepal," Pindrock said.

Just last week, a mudslide in India claimed the lives of 108 residents in Malin village, part of the Maharashtra state of India.

Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to this story.


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