The death toll could go up further, says official
The death toll from days of flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rains in parts of India and Nepal hit 168 on Wednesday, according to media reports that also suggested that scores were still missing.
As per the India government data, a total of 52 deaths have been reported since Sunday in the northern state of Uttarkhand.
Seventeen persons are injured and five are still missing. Nainital district was the most affected with 28 deaths reported on Tuesday, reports The Indian Express.
Five of the dead were from a single family whose house was buried by a massive landslide, local official Pradeep Jain told AFP.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the Kerala state of southern India reached 39 on Wednesday, reports AFP.
The coastal state has been battered by heavy rain since Friday and thousands have been moved to safer locations. More than 200 homes were destroyed and almost 1,400 damaged.
Experts say that they were victims of ever-more unpredictable and extreme weather across South Asia in recent years caused by climate change and exacerbated by deforestation, damming and excessive development.
The deaths in Uttarakhand followed cloudbursts -- an ultra-intense deluge of rain – that triggered landslides and destroyed several structures, reports AFP.
Authorities ordered the closure of schools and banned all religious and tourist activities in the state.
The floods almost swept away an elephant near the Corbett Tiger Reserve -- home to 164 of the big cats and 600 elephants -- but in a video that went viral, the animal managed to battle the strong currents and swim to safety.
Uttarakhand reported 178.4 mm rain in the first 18 days of October — almost 500% more than the average, the Hindustan Times reported citing Indian Meteorological Department data.
And the state's Mukteshwar area reported 340.8 mm rainfall in the 24 hours until Tuesday morning, the most since the weather station was set up there in 1897, the newspaper said.
The Indian Meteorological Department forecast a "significant reduction" in rainfall in the state from Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the death toll after three days of heavy rain in Nepal rose to 77 on Wednesday after rescuers recovered 34 more bodies, Reuters reports citing the authorities concerned.
Twenty-four deaths have been reported in the Panchthar district of east Nepal bordering India, 13 in neighbouring Ilam and 12 in Doti in west Nepal, interior ministry official Dil Kumar Tamang said. Others died elsewhere in west Nepal.
The ministry said 22 people were injured and 26 were missing.
But disaster management official Humkala Pandey said that 43 others were still missing.
"It's still raining in many places... The death toll could go up further," she told AFP.
Authorities said the government would provide $1,700 as relief to the families of each dead victim and free treatment for the injured.
About 350 km west of the capital Kathmandu, persistent heavy rains were hampering efforts to reach Seti, a village in west Nepal where 60 people have been marooned by floods for two days.
“Rescuers were unable to reach the village due to bad weather and continuous rains yesterday. Rescue efforts are continuing today,” Police spokesman Basanta Kunwar told Reuters.
Television channels showed rice paddy crops submerged or washed away, and rivers sweeping away bridges, roads, houses and the runway of an airport in the city of Biratnagar.
Flash floods and landslides are common in Nepal during the monsoon season from mid-June through September.
Authorities have warned of more rain in the next few days.
There are “chances of heavy rainfall in some places and light to moderate snowfall” in the eastern mountainous areas, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology said in a forecast for the next two days.
Landslides are a regular danger in the Himalayan region, but experts say they are becoming more common as rains become increasingly erratic and glaciers melt.