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Bihar evacuates thousands after deadly Nepal landslide

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Bihar evacuates thousands after deadly Nepal landslide
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Patna: Authorities in eastern India began evacuating thousands of villagers on Saturday after efforts to clear a deadly landslide in neighbouring Nepal sparked fears of flash floods downstream, government officials said.

The landslide, triggered by heavy rains in Nepal's Sindhupalchowk district, killed at least nine people and buried dozens of homes. More than 100 people are believed missing.

The slide has also created a mud dam blocking the Sunkoshi river, which runs into India's Bihar state as the Kosi river.

Indian officials said water levels were already above the danger mark. They feared that as Nepal blasts through the landslide to clear it, a torrent of water could be unleashed inundating hundreds of Bihar's villages.

"We are repeatedly appealing to villagers settled along the Kosi embankments to flee to safer places as soon as possible," the principal secretary in Bihar's disaster management department, Vyas ji, who goes only by one name, told reporters.

"The blasting of blockage in river could result in a 10-metre high wall of water sweeping down Kosi into Bihar which could bring trouble," he added.

The Kosi river remains a key concern for both India and Nepal after it broke its banks in 2008 and changed its course, submerging swathes of land and affecting more than two million people in Bihar. More than 500 people died.

The Nepal army said they had started opening the dam by setting off two controlled blasts and water had started to drain out slowly.

But Indian authorities are taking no chances and have put eight districts under flood alert, and begun evacuations in the districts of Supaul, Madhubani and Saharsa.

Sluice gates at a barrage along the Kosi at the Indo-Nepal border have been opened, rescue teams deployed and over 200 boats sent out to evacuate villagers, said senior officials.

Reuters

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