A massive landslide in Mankha, Nepal, has officially claimed 159 victims and the government has now given up on finding any more bodies after only recovering 33. Yadav Prasad Koirala with the Nepal Department of Natural Disaster Management announced, “We have no chance of finding any of the missing people alive under this pile of debris. We have the names of 159 people who are believed to be missing and buried, but there could be even more people.” With this somber announcement, the government has given up trying to help the dead and will give each family $410 as compensation. Meanwhile, attention turns to trying to return life to normalcy and helping those left behind.
The landslide occurred on Saturday August 2, 2014, in the town of Mankha, about 75 miles east of Katmandu, left the highway blocked shutting off supplies into the area that lost almost everything. The government has ordered the military to assist with clearing the Amiko Highway that runs from the community to the China border. Many people who had crossed over the border from China were trapped in the area. Some have chartered private helicopters to fly people to Katmandu. Others remain in the area which is running short on supplies because trucks cannot come in from the north.
The largest concern for the government now is that the landslide caused a lake to form. If the lake does not hold the water, then the water crashes through several villages. Up to 120,000 people live in these villages on the India border with Nepal. On August 2, 2014, the government sat off three controlled explosions to try to disperse the water, but they were unsuccessful. This has prompted the Nepal government to order citizens living south of the water to leave their homes. The government has set up 120 camps for these people and ordered all government doctors and civil officials to cancel their vacation plans. The government has passed a law so that those who do not leave willingly can be forced from their homes.
Landslides are common in the area during the rainy season, which lasts from June to September. On Monday, August 4, 2014, another landslide killed 10 in eastern Nepal and a landslide last week in India killed 108. Over six years from 2004 and 2010, 2,620 fatal landslides killed 32,322 people. Scientists estimate that about 16,000 landslides occur each year, although most landslides do not kill people and do little damage.