Kaligandaki disaster ‘averted’

MYAGDI/ The perceived danger downstream was averted, at least temporarily, as the water in a landslide-dammed lake on the Kaligandaki river in Myagdi district started overflowing after 15 hours of blockage.

The river has been blocked at Baisari as a massive “dry landslide” fell from Mahavir in Ramche-9 along the Beni-Jomsom road. The site is about 9km north of Beni, the district headquarters of Myagdi.

The blocked river flowed out after filling the artificial lake at around 5pm on Sunday. There was flood as the water level rose two metres above the usual monsoon flow. Though floodwaters reached up to some houses near the banks, there was no notable damage.

Chief District Officer Tek Bahadur KC said the area is now out of danger. “There are no human casualties. There is no damage to property too,” he said. Downstream settlers, who had climbed to safer places, have started returning to their homes.

Landslides first occurred in Baisari village on Friday morning, hitting five houses. “The local administration, police and Red Cross evacuated the villagers as landslips continued. There were no casualties as the locals had already left,” said Lekh Bahadur Hamal, district chairman of the Nepal Red Cross Society.

Massive rocks started falling past Saturday midnight, burying 26 houses in Baisari and Ramche. A 2km long and 100 metre deep lake was formed after the landslide dammed the river. According to Surat KC, chairman of the local chapter of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, water level receded as the outlet eroded the dam.

Local administration urged the people in Beni and other downstream settlements to go to safer places. Beni Bazaar wore a deserted look after the notice. Inmates of District Prison were shifted to a hall at the District Development Committee office. Riverside settlers in Palpa, Syangja and Gulmi districts fear flooding.

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