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New Delhi (AFP) – The torrential rains in northern India and Nepal have left a scene of devastation and hundreds of deaths. The monsoon season especially affects the mountains of these countries. Climate change seems to be the main reason for the sudden increase in rainfall and rising water levels.
In India, the death toll from the bad weather has risen to 102, while in neighboring Nepal, authorities this Thursday raised the previous balance of 31 victims to 88.
Experts link the frequency of these extreme weather events, which are increasingly common in South Asia, with factors such as the acceleration of climate change and deforestation and dam construction.
Among those killed in Nepal is a family of six, including three children, whose house was buried in mud and debris.
“All disaster management teams are actively involved in rescue and relief operations,” said Emergency Officer Dijan Bhattarai, who said the police and army were mobilized.
In the Indian state of Uttarakhand (north), in the middle of the Himalayas, authorities confirmed the death toll of 55, nine more than the previous outstanding amount.
Roads and bridges in the area have been damaged by the weather and many cities have been isolated. The government also sent troops to reach thousands of isolated people.
AFP images show a group of police officers forming a chain to prevent an entire house from being dragged down a slope or being swept away by strong currents flowing down the street.
Missing and asylum seekers
Regional Disaster Management Officer S Murugesan said the death toll could rise as many people are missing, including 20 tourists who went on the iceberg trek.
Five people, including eight-year-old and 10-year-old girls from the same family, have been killed in floods in the mountains above the eastern state of Darjeeling in West Bengal.
“The mud, rocks and water flowing in the Darjeeling mountains damaged 400 houses and evacuated thousands of people from the rivers on its slopes,” Disaster Management Minister Javed Ahmed Khan told AFP.
In addition, “hundreds of tourists have been isolated on a campus in Darjeeling (…) landslides have blocked highways and roads in the area,” he added.
The Met Office issued a red alert to the state on Thursday warning of heavy rains in Darjeeling and other nearby cities.
In Kerala and southern India, 42 people have been killed since last week and the meteorological department has warned of heavy rains in at least three districts.
In 2018, nearly half a thousand people died in the worst flooding on the Arabian Sea coast in nearly a century.
The Red Cross, which is involved in rescue efforts in both countries, has warned people living in low-lying areas about the danger of water and landslides.
“People in Nepal and India are caught between epidemics and bad weather disasters, affecting millions of lives and livelihoods,” the organization said.