Bara, April 1
Houses have been reduced to rubble. Trees, utility poles and even underground water pumps have been uprooted. People are facing difficulty finding food and drinking water and crops have been damaged, threatening people’s livelihood.
This is a scene from Pheta Rural Municipality in Bara, which was worst hit by last night’s devastating storm. Three villages in the rural municipality — Purainiya, Bharbaliya and Bhaloni — have been completely damaged with 200 out of 300 houses crumbling down to the ground. At least 26 have died in the rural municipality with a population of around 31,000, while 343 have suffered injuries. People from Prasauni Rural Municipality, Mahagadhimai Municipality, Kalaiya Sub-metropolitan City, Subarna Rural Municipality, Pachrauta Municipality and Parwanipur Municipality have also suffered injuries. These places are located in Bara district. At least one human casualty was also reported in Bhawanipur Rural Municipality of Parsa district.
Bara and Parsa districts have been witnessing gail-force winds since yesterday afternoon. In the evening, thunderstorm and lightning were reported. Then a tornado-like storm struck, creating a shape of a funnel, according to locals. It was like a whirlwind, they said, which razed rows of buildings, trees and electricity poles, blocking roads and rendering villages without electricity and communications channel. Later, there was hailstorm.
“We had never seen natural disaster of this type and intensity before. This was unusual,” said 59-year-old Mubarak Miya Ansari of Pheta Rural Municipality who suffered a major leg injury after his house collapsed.
The devastating natural disaster was reported between 7:45pm and 8:15pm. So far, it has killed 27 people, including six children, and injured 668, according to the home ministry. Of the injured, 284 have returned home after undergoing treatment. Nine who were critically injured were airlifted to Kathmandu this morning and are receiving treatment at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. The remaining are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Bara and Parsa, according to a statement issued by the home ministry.
Many of those left in the villages have moved to makeshift camps and are relying on handouts to survive. They are living on biscuits, noodles and bread donated by the government and non-government agencies.
“The storm has even uprooted underground water pumps,” said Pheta Rural Municipality Chairperson Amiri Prasad.
“Locals are drinking bottled water provided by organisations.”
The hailstorm has also damaged stored grains and destroyed crops planted in the fields. This has left the locals worried about their livelihood in the coming days.
“We lost everything in the blink of an eye. What shall we eat? What shall we feed our children?” asked Naresh Sah, a resident of Pheta Rural Municipality.
Later this afternoon, rural municipality officials were seen using bulldozers to clear blocked roads. Personnel of Nepali Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have been deployed to conduct rescue operation. They are also clearing rubble from damaged houses and other physical structure.
A version of this article appears in print on April 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.