At least 36 people were killed and dozens reported missing after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides in parts of Nepal, the home ministry said on Saturday.
Many of the casualties were reported from the Terai region bordering India, which faced massive flooding after receiving heavy rainfall since Friday. The weatherman has warned that the country will receive more rain on Sunday.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba called an emergency meeting with home minister Janardan Sharma, police chiefs and other officials to expedite an immediate search-and-rescue operation in Tarai.
“I could not visit and inspect the flood-affected areas due to bad weather,” Sharma said. His ministry estimated that tens of thousands were displaced due to the rains.
Several rivers, including the Koshi and the Bagmati are close to or have crossed danger levels. Deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara requested India open the gates of the barrage on the Koshi — also called the “sorrow of Bihar” — as rising water levels in the river have put dozens of human settlements at risk.
However, by opening the gates, parts of India too would be under risk of submergence — the river has become a regular diplomatic issue between Nepal and India during the rainy season.
Images on social media showed the runway at Biratnagar airport in eastern Morang district submerged in a metre of water, with an empty plane stranded on the tarmac. Morang police chief Arun BC said the airport had been shut due to the flooding.