Published: 03:45 PM, 13 August 2017
The death toll from floods and landslides in Nepalhas jumped to at least 40, officials said Sunday, with thousandsforced to flee their homes amid days of heavy monsoon rain.
Torrential downpours have destroyed homes and infrastructurein more than a dozen districts since Friday morning, and forced familiesto climb into trees to escape the rapidly rising waters.
"Since Friday, at least 40 people have been killed inthe floods and landslides," home ministry spokesman DeepakKafle told AFP, upgrading the previous toll of 25.
"Our search and rescue teams are working continuously inaffected areas. We are also providing relief to the victims."
The Red Cross said in a statement the death toll had reachedat least 53, with dozens more missing and injured.
Footage aired on Nepali broadcasters showed villagers wadingthrough waist-high water with their belongings and using boats to reachhigher ground.
Families perched on trees with young children overnight asflood waters swept away homes in a village in southern district ofChitwan, local media reported.
In the popular jungle safari resort of Sauraha in Chitwan,hotels were forced to shift their guests to higher floors as watersrushed into the premises.
A hotel owner said they used elephants to transport touriststo the nearest open highway and airport to help them return to thecapital Kathmandu.
"There isn't a house without water. Hundreds of familiesare taking shelter in local schools," said Raghu Ram Mehta, aresident of Sunsari district, which has suffered nine deaths, thehighest of any district.
Biratnagar airport in eastern Morang district was closedafter being submerged in a metre of water, said authorities at theinternational terminal.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expressed his condolencesand urged people to remain.
"I have already instructed authorities concerned torescue flood victims, move them to safer locations and immediatelyprovide relief to them. All four security agencies have alreadyswung into action," he said in a video recording Saturday.
The latest casualties bring the death toll from this year'smonsoon season to more than 100, government records show.
Nearly 100 people died last year in Nepal during the rainyseason, which
typically begins in late June and lasts until the end ofAugust.
Last weekend in the central lowlands, four girls from thesame family drowned when they fell into a flooded roadside ditch.
Nepal's weather department issued an alert Saturday warningthat heavy rains were expected to continue for another day, andadvised districts to close schools and residents to stay indoors.