United Nations to support India and Nepal in landslide rescue operations

United Nations, Aug 5: The United Nations and its partners are supporting the governments of India and Nepal in search-and-rescue operations and providing assistance to thousands of people displaced due to landslides triggered by monsoonal rains in the two countries.

While the Indian government has led the response in search and rescue operations, OCHA’s Asia Pacific regional office in Bangkok has been in close contact with Indian authorities since the landslide. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said more than 100 people have been killed and about 60 others still missing in the July 30 landslide in Maharashtra’s Pune city. Around 350 personnel form the National Disaster Response Force are working to clear the debris and recover bodies but their work is hampered by continued heavy rain, the UN said.

The Pune landslide swept through the village of Malin following weeks of heavy monsoon rains. Rescuers have pulled out 130 bodies so far from the muddy debris at the disastrous landslide site. Meanwhile, in northeast Nepal, a separate landslide on August 2 killed at least 10 people in the middle of the night. Authorities said the death toll could climb to more than 150 people.

The landslide has also blocked the Kosi river, forming a lake which is threatening to cause downstream flash floods, the UN agency said. Authorities in Nepal and eastern India are evacuating thousands of people along the riverbank, including 65,000 from Bihar as responders struggle to secure a controlled release of the water with continuous rain hampering access to the affected area.

Nepalese workers are also attempting to clear the blockage. The landslide has displaced 5,000 families and destroyed dozens of houses, a UN spokesperson said. The National Emergency Operations Centre has asked for health, food, and shelter support in the most affected districts. OCHA said it is working with partners to respond to the requests for support.