31 killed, 600 injured as freak storm hits Nepal

Kathmandu | A freak storm battered several places in Southern Nepal on Sunday, killing 31 people and injuring 600 others as high-speed winds tore down houses, flipped vehicles and toppled trees and electricity poles.

Massive winds accompanied by hailstorms and rain struck Bara and the adjoining district of Parsa late on Sunday evening. According to officials, 28 people were killed in Bara, 128 kilometers south of Kathmandu, one person died in neighbouring Parsa, while two more died in other parts of Southern Nepal.

High winds flipped cars and blew one passenger bus off a highway, causing fatalities. According to police, many people were either killed after getting buried under rubbles of houses and metal roofs that flung all over the settlements, or after coming under the electric pylons and trees that were uprooted as the disaster advanced.

According to Province 2 Attorney General Dipendra Jha, a majority of the 600 injured are from Pheta and Bhulahi Bharwaliya areas in Bara’s Pheta Rural Municipality, which have mostly been affected by the hailstorm.

Every year hundreds die in landslides and floods during Nepal’s monsoon season, but storms causing such high casualties in spring are rare.

According to District Police Office, Parsa, the number of casualties could see a rise as rescue efforts have gained pace.

The estimates of infrastructural damages incurred in the disaster are yet to be ascertained as the storm has damaged hundreds of houses, electric pylons, while uprooted trees have obstructed the roads and highways.

The storm also damaged over 12 passenger buses that were parked along the roadside during the incident, police added. The natural disaster also led to a power outage last night while the internet services have resumed in the affected districts.

Security agencies including two battalions of Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force of Nepal have been mobilised to carry out rescue and relief operation in the affected areas, according to Bara’s Chief District Officer (CDO) Rajesh Poudel.

An emergency meeting of Province 2 Council of Ministers held Monday decided to provide Rs 300,000 to each victim’s family along with relief package including tents, food items, medical supplies, among others.

Further, the province government has urged the health institutions to provide free treatment to the injured. The shortage of blood supplies has been taken care of at the moment while medical supplies are also well-stocked.

The Province 2 government has urged the central government to declare a state of emergency in the affected areas.

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has expressed sadness over the loss of lives and extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. The prime minister also visited the storm-hit areas.

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