Monsoon rains kill scores in South Asia

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(Xinhua/Sajjad)

NEW DELHI (AFP) – At least eight people were killed when a house collapsed in northern India following heavy monsoon rain which has left more than 85 dead across South Asia, officials said Monday.

Floods and landslides caused by torrential downpours have killed at least 67 people across Nepal while 30 more are missing, police said.

In Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, 10 people have died and thousands of shanty homes have been destroyed since April.

In the latest monsoon-related tragedy, a four-storey building on a hillside in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh collapsed, killing eight people and trapping at least seven others.

The structure – located near popular tourist destination Shimla – came down on Sunday following days of heavy downpours.

Rescue workers searched the rubble for survivors, while heavy machinery removed heaps of mangled steel and wires from the muddied debris.

Local official K.C. Chaman said eight people had died in the collapse, adding that rescuers were looking “for at least seven other people” trapped in the debris.

One soldier – who was pulled out alive from the rubble – said they had gathered for a party in the building’s restaurant, “but suddenly the building shook and collapsed.”

Such incidents are common across the region during the monsoon because of dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

The June to September monsoon causes widespread death and destruction across South Asia each year.

Floods have devastated much of the northeastern Indian state of Assam where four people died on Sunday after being swept away by sudden torrents.

The state’s Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO-recognised reserve and home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos, has also been seriously affected by the weather.

In the eastern state of Bihar, five rivers were flowing over the danger levels with more rain forecast over the next few days.

The downpours have eased in Nepal but authorities still fear the death toll could rise, said police spokesman Bishwaraj Pokharel, who gave the latest number of dead and missing.

“There are the challenges of resettlement of the displaced as many houses.. have been swept away. We are also cautious about the risk of epidemics due to polluted water,” he said.

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