Rescuers in Nepal struggled to retrieve bodies Sunday amid fears of a cholera outbreak after monsoon rains swept away houses, killing at least 85 people and stranding thousands more, among also many tourists and other visitors to Nepal.
The travel and tourism industry in Nepal has come to a standstill due to the danger of flooding.
Torrential rain last week led to multiple landslides and flooding, leaving a trail of death and destruction in the Himalayan nation.
The rains have damaged roads across the country’s western plains bordering India, forcing officials to use helicopters to rescue stranded people and deliver emergency supplies.
As the weather cleared Sunday, improving visibility after three days of incessant rain, army officials ran helicopter sorties to evacuate some 20,000 people stranded in badly-hit western districts, said national disaster management chief Yadav Prasad Koirala.
Locals are very concerned about a possible outbreak of cholera due to the bodies lying underwater.
It has been a challenge to provide people with clean drinking water and dry food.
Cholera is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with human faeces.
As water levels slowly recede, rescuers have started moving people from their damaged homes into temporary shelters, but large areas remained submerged, preventing helicopters from landing so workers can search for 113 people still missing, Koirala said.
Villagers in Surkhet, the worst-affected district, described their horror at being awoken by news that the nearby Bheri river was overflowing early Friday.
About 150 people from this village managed to escape to safety by running uphill, but many others were not as lucky.
d two grandchildren,” he said.
As the anxious villagers waited for help, many were already suffering from fever though no symptoms of diarrhea had been observed yet.
“No one (from the government) has come here yet, meanwhile some people are getting sick… We have some medicine, but what will we do when it runs out?”
The deaths come two weeks after the worst landslide in over a decade smashed into hamlets in the hilly northeast and killed 156 people.
Heavy rain in Uttarakhand state in neighbouring India has claimed at least 24 lives since Friday, reviving memories of a deluge last year that killed more than 5,000 people in the same region.
Media reports Sunday said several districts in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were also flooded after heavy rain in the catchment areas of Himalayan rivers and the release of excess water from barrages in Nepal.
Hundreds die every year in floods and landslides during the monsoon season in South Asia.