18 June 2013

The monsoon arrives early in northern India and Nepal, inflicting a high cost

Posted by dr-dave

Over the last few days rainfall across northern India and Nepal has been unusually high, inducing widespread flooding and landslides, at a substantial cost to the local population.  The TRMM seven day rainfall map for Asia shows the affected area:

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According to media reports the worst-affected areas have been in Uttarakhand, where the death toll to date is about 40 people, with more reported missing.  Rainfall totals here have exceeded 340 mm, leading to some dramatic videos of rivers in flood, and in particular of houses being lost to riverbank erosion.  Sky News have this dramatic video (which I cannot embed), whilst this television news report (not in English) video has a wider perspective on the floods and at around the 50 seconds mark shows a landslide in action and at 2:50 has a dramatic rockfall:

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The best gallery of images that I have found is on the Daily Mail website:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343268/Entire-villages-washed-away-At-23-dead-50-missing-India-days-torrential-rains-wreak-havoc-leave-10-000-pilgrims-stranded-mountainside.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

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The far west of Nepal has also been seriously affected by this rainfall, with a family of seven being killed by a landslide in Malika in Dailekh, a family of five being killed by a landslide at Siddheswor in Baitadi, two people being killed and three injured by a landslide at Kuntiwandali in Achham , and five young women being killed by the Trishuli River in Trishuli.

Whilst mid-June is monsoon season in this area, the most intense rainfall usually occurs later than this.  Unfortunately, tis high intensity rainfall event will have saturated the ground in these areas, making them more vulnerable to landslides later in the summer.