Oct 21 (Al Jazeera) – More than 150 people have died in several days of significant flooding and devastating landslides that have swept away roads and houses in India and Nepal, officials say, with dozens more missing.
In Uttarakhand state in northern India, officials on Wednesday said that 46 people had died in recent days with 11 others missing.
In Kerala in the south, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the death toll had hit 39 there.
At least 30 of those in Uttarakhand were killed in seven separate incidents in the Nainital region early on Tuesday, after cloudbursts – an ultra-intense deluge of rain – triggered a series of landslides and destroyed several structures.
Five of the dead were from a single-family whose house was buried by an enormous landslide, local official Pradeep Jain told the AFP news agency.
Another landslide in the northern Almora district killed five people after huge rocks and a wall of mud demolished and engulfed their home.
At least six others were killed on Monday in two remote districts of the Himalayan state.
The Indian Meteorological Department extended and widened its weather alert on Tuesday, predicting heavy to very heavy rainfall in the region.
The weather office said several areas were drenched by more than 400mm (16 inches) of rainfall on Monday, causing landslides and flooding.
Authorities ordered the closure of schools and banned all religious and tourist activities in the state.
Television footage and social media videos showed residents wading through knee-deep water near Nainital lake, a tourist hotspot, and the river Ganges bursting its banks in Rishikesh.
More than 100 tourists were stuck inside a resort in Ramgarh after the overflowing Kosi river deluged several areas.
In Nepal, the death toll after three days of heavy rain triggered landslides and flash floods rose to 77 on Wednesday after rescuers recovered 34 more bodies, authorities said.
Twenty-four deaths have been reported in the Panchthar district of east Nepal bordering India, 13 in neighbouring Ilam and 12 in Doti in west Nepal, interior ministry official Dil Kumar Tamang said. Others died elsewhere in west Nepal.
The ministry said 22 people were injured and 26 were missing.
Landslides are a regular danger in the Himalayan region, but experts say they are becoming more common as rains become increasingly erratic and glaciers melt.
Experts also blame construction work on hydroelectric dams and deforestation.
In February, a ferocious flash flood hurtled down a remote valley in Uttarakhand, killing about 200 people. At least 5,700 people perished there in 2013.
Forecasters have also warned of more downpours in the coming days in Kerala.
Many dams in the state were nearing the danger mark and authorities were evacuating thousands to safer locations as big rivers overflowed.
India’s weather office said heavy rains will again lash Kerala in the next two days after a brief reprieve on Tuesday.
In 2018, almost 500 people died in the coastal state in the worst flooding in 100 years.