08/30/2008, 00.00
NEPAL - INDIA
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Flooding in Nepal, 60,000 refugees, entire harvests destroyed

by Kalpit Parajuli
The country is on its knees after the rains in recent weeks. A large number of people have gone missing, while the country's economy is on the verge of collapse. The flooding has also struck in neighboring India: there are 70 certified deaths, but this number could quickly rise.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - There is a humanitarian emergency in Nepal. There are tens of thousands of refugees in the eastern part of the country, driven on by the rains in recent days that have caused flooding, and the overflow of Koshi River.

Aid operations continue in the areas hardest hit by the flooding - Shreepur, Laudani, Haripur, and Kusaha - within which there are more than 60,000 refugees who have lost their homes under the water. In the districts of Sunsari and Sarlahi, entire harvests have been lost, and the main source of nourishment for the local population has nearly been destroyed. For now there are no official victims, but many nuclear families report loved ones missing who have not been heard from. Others denounce disappearances, especially among the children, who in many cases have lost contact with their parents and relatives. There is concern over the many dead animal carcasses, which could become a source of disease or infection.

The tragedy was caused by the collapse of the embankment holding back the Koshi River. Its construction was the work of the Indian government, which is also supposed to guarantee its maintenance, but it has become the bone of contention between the two countries. Nepal is accusing India of a lack of experience, while its neighbor replies that it was the duty of the Nepalese government to warn about the possible risks presented by the flooding of the river. In spite of all this, the two sources have agreed on an immediate reconstruction of the embankments, essential for permitting a slow return to normality in the area.

In the meantime, the flooding has also struck India, and has already claimed lives: in the state of Bihar, the Sizing up about transporting refugees caused the death of 20 people. As of today, there are 70 confirmed victims, while hundreds of thousands are without food and drinking water.

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