Thousands Evacuated in Nepal After Landslide

Thousands Evacuated in Nepal After Landslide
Thousands Evacuated in Nepal After Landslide

Thousands of people fled villages and towns along a mountain river in northwest Nepal on Sunday after it was blocked by a landslide that could burst and cause flash floods, officials said.

The landslide created a dam and a lake 2km long on the Kaligandaki River, said government administrator Yam Bahadur Chokhal, USA Today reported.

Residents living on the banks of the river were moved to higher grounds for fear the river could burst and send flash floods through the area north of Beni Bazaar, about 200km northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. Soldiers and police officers were sent to monitor the river and help and warn the villagers.

Two powerful earthquakes devastated Nepal on April 25 and May 12, killing nearly 8,700 people and injuring 16,800 others. The quakes and aftershocks also triggered many landslides in the Himalayan nation. In 2002, dozens of people were killed when an avalanche held back the nearby Seti River, which then burst through the snow blockage and sent water gushing through villages along its banks.

"We have asked villagers along the riverside in these districts to move to safer places," interior ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said on Sunday.

One of Nepal's largest hydroelectric power plants in the area could be at risk, officials warned. Army helicopter were surveying the area with troops being sent to siphon off the water from the fast-growing lake.