Kathmandu, January 25
Intense cold weather has claimed at least 48 lives across the country so far this winter, according to a figure released by the government.
National Emergency Operation Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs said 26 males and 22 females, mostly elderly, died of hypothermia. The death toll from the cold spell by winter this year is more than two-third of the recorded deaths (69) in the last five years, according to the MoHA.
The MoHA said the concerned district disaster relief committees had provided a cash relief of Rs 100,000 to the family of each of the victim as per the Disaster Victim Rescue and Relief Standards (Sixth Amendment), 2017. Only the persons or families affected by earthquake, flood, landslide, hailstorm, windstorm, lightning, cold wave, snowfall, and road traffic and aircraft accident and boat capsize caused by adverse weather condition are entitled to the relief pursuant to this law.
In addition to cash, the MoHA had distributed relief materials worth Rs 22.2 million to cold wave-affected people in 22 districts of the Tarai region after the death toll crossed two dozen on January 8. The relief materials included blankets, firewood and warm clothes. The amount was allocated through the Central Disaster Relief Fund, according to the ministry.
With the mercury plummeting across the country, the MoHA, the concerned line ministries, departments, district disaster relief committees, district administration offices, local disaster relief committees and humanitarian organisations had geared up to help prevent deaths from exposure to cold wave and prepare for rescue and relief operations, it claimed. The authorities had been urged to make arrangements for lighting fires and providing blankets and warm clothes for affected and vulnerable people.
In winter, the Tarai and the high Himalayan regions face the brunt of cold waves which cause death and injury to livestock and wildlife, and people, mainly the elderly and children. People, particularly the poor, who cannot afford warm clothes, are more vulnerable.
A version of this article appears in print on January 26, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.