Patna/Kathmandu, Aug 2: Bihar has issued an alert over likely floods in four districts and ordered evacuation of people after fears about a drastic rise in the water level of the Kosi river on Saturday following a landslide that killed eight people in Nepal with mud and rocks crashing down and blocking a tributary of the river. The Bihar government issued an alert over likely floods in Supaul, Saharsa, Purnea and Madhepura districts in the Kosi region.
Water Resources Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said the government sounded the alert after massive landslides Friday night over one of the major tributaries of the Kosi river blocked the course of the main river in Nepal killing eight people and trapping many more.
“As the landslide blocked the main course of the river and water accumulated there forming a massive water body, the Nepal Army is likely to blast the blockade, which is bound to cause an abrupt rise in the water level of the Kosi,” Chaudhary said. The state disaster management department has asked officials to start evacuation of people living near the embankments of the Kosi in the four districts.
“We have directed the district administrations to evacuate people and see that they don’t get trapped when the river level increases. Hundreds of thousands of people live in villages situated within the embankments of the Kosi,” said disaster management department special secretary Anirudh Kumar.
Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and three teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have also been rushed to tackle any emergency in view of the floods. Meanwhile, a landslide Saturday morning killed eight people in Nepal, as mud and rocks came crashing down and blocked the Sun Kosi river. A small village was buried and at least 150 people were reported missing.
Following the landslide around 2 a.m., the river formed a large lake in Sindhupalchowk district, about 60 km from Kathmandu. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed concern over the blockage of the Kosi river in Nepal. “He (Modi) has directed that all possible help should be provided to the Bihar government and Nepal,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Nepal’s ministry of home affairs has urged the administration of Sunsari district where the Kosi barrage is located, to open the 56 gates. “The massive rise in the water level may hit the barrage, so we have instructed the home ministry to open the gates of the Kosi barrage,” said Yadav Koirala, joint secretary in the home ministry who looks after disaster management.
The ministry has also declared a state of emergency in the affected areas and sought help from India and China to prevent loss of lives and property. Nepal Police spokesperson Ganesh K.C. said authorities were trying to conduct a controlled blast to funnel off the water.
The landslide also buried the Arniko highway at the dam site in Mankha, bringing traffic to a standstill on the road linking Nepal with China. Residents of Barhabishe, Lamesanghu, Khadichaur and Dolalghat villages in Sindhupalchowk district besides other surrounding areas have moved to higher grounds, fearing the blocked river may burst through anytime.
Chief District Officer Gopal Prasad Parajuli said the administration was considering dropping a bomb from an army chopper to clear the landslide debris, so that the river could have a free flow. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has directed the home ministry to look at controlled release of water and to take steps to protect the lives and property of people.