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180 dead as floods wash away homes in Nepal, India

By Binaj Gurubacharya

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 18 2014 6:56 a.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, Aug. 18 2014 6:56 a.m. MDT

This Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014 aerial photo shows houses in a residential area partially submerged by monsoon floods at Nalanda district of Bihar, India. Rescue and relief operations continue in the state of Bihar after heavy rains caused landslides and floods in many parts of India.

Press Trust of India, Associated Press

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KATMANDU, Nepal — Authorities in Nepal and neighboring India sent food, medical supplies and tents Monday to areas where monsoon floods have displaced thousands of people and killed at least 180 in recent days.

Four helicopters with relief supplies and medical workers were sent to cut-off villages in western Nepal, Jhanka Nath Dhakal of the National Emergency Operation Center said. Most roads into the area are submerged or damaged by flooding, preventing vehicles from passing.

Thousands of people are without shelter in 10 flooded districts, and local officials on Monday distributed rice and lentils and cooking pots to people who lost their homes. The area is mainly farmland where the poor live in mud and straw huts that wash away easily.

At least 100 people have died in Nepal since Thursday, and at least 84 have died in neighboring India due to torrential rains or overflowing rivers after dams were opened in Nepal, authorities said.

In northern India, at least 50 people have died in Uttarakhand state, many of them washed away as rivers overflowed, submerging villages and fields. Officials in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state reported 10 more deaths overnight, pushing its toll to 34.

People in the worst-affected villages were being evacuated to relief camps set up in government and school buildings, said Alok Ranjan, a government official in Uttar Pradesh.

State authorities said paramilitary soldiers in some 400 boats were helping to evacuate people from their homes after entire villages were marooned in northern Uttar Pradesh.

Several rivers overflowed after water was released from dams in Nepal, Ranjan said.

Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appealed to both and domestic and foreign agencies to help flood victims there. The main opposition party in Parliament, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, disrupted parliamentary proceedings and demanded that the government declare a national emergency.

Dhakal said the government was trying to send medical teams and supplies to prevent diseases such as cholera that can follow flooding. They are also distributing tents and plastic sheets to make temporary shelters, utensils to cook food and clothes for those who lost their belongings.

The June-September monsoon season often bring flooding to Nepal and neighboring India. The rains caused a landslide earlier this month that covered an entire village near Katmandu, killing 156 people.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through Uttarakhand state during the monsoon season. Heavy deforestation over the last few decades has made the area more vulnerable to landslides.

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