Kathmandu, June 16

At least 10 people were feared dead and more than 1,000 families were displaced after the Indravati River coursed through settlements in Sindhupalchowk, sweeping away a number of concrete bridges and inundating up to two floors of houses in Melamchi Bazaar following more than 24 hours of incessant rainfall.

Eight of those swept away were working on trout farms, whereas two others have gone missing from a settlement on the banks of the Indravati River.

Police have recovered only one body so far.

The worst-hit were settlements on the banks of the Indravati River in Melamchi Municipality, Helambu Rural Municipality, Pachpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality, and Indrawati Rural Municipality.

Jagannath Dulal, a journalist, was having dinner with his family in Melamchi Bazaar last evening when a police team came to the town to alert the residents of possible flooding in the area. Jagannath did not take the warning seriously as his house was at a higher ground several hundred metres from the river.

However, soon the news spread that the river had been blocked due to landslides in the upper reaches and would soon burst into Melamchi Bazaar, prompting people to gather whatever little they could and head to safer places higher up.

Dulal and hundreds of his neighbours watched the river inundate their houses within hours. "We could do nothing much but watch valuables from our houses being washed away, as people did not have enough time to collect valuables," Dulal told THT.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Chanute in Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality.

Gyanendra Sapkota, who operates Kalij pheasant farm told THT that half of his farm was swept away by a landslide and his house was inundated as it rained last night, forcing him to flee with his family to a safer place.

Minister of Health and Population Sher Bahadur Tamang, who is a lawmaker from Sindhupalchowk, undertook an aerial survey of the affected area. He told THT that half of the district was affected due to multiple landslides in higher mountain reaches.

"Some 30 km from Melamchi Bazaar landslides have blocked the river, resulting in a big dam. The river eventually breached the dam and gushed into settlements wreaking havoc," Tamang said.

He said a landslide had hit Chekpu and was likely to block the river again, creating another huge dam.

Tamang said at least 200 families were displaced due to the flooding, whereas more than 1,000 families had moved to safer places.

The flood has also affected the office of Melamchi Drinking Project at Melamchi, sweeping away headworks of the project at Ambatham. "It is just a couple of kilometres below the area where the landslide had blocked the river, " said Tamang.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Sapkota, who was elected from Sindhupalchowk, visited the affected areas and promised to arrange relief materials from the Relief Distribution Committee.

Meanwhile, personnel of Nepal Police and Nepali Army have been deployed in the area to carry out rescue.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.