Landslide blocks Kali Gandaki river in western Nepal

The landslide occurred despite the absence of any rain in the area. Experts in Kathmandu said it may have been triggered by the major earthquake that shook Nepal and adjoining countries on April 25, plus the aftershocks.“We can’t say at this moment about whether it was earthquake induced or not but as it is a dry landslide there is high possibility that the reason was earthquake,” said Basanta Raj Adhikari, a landslide expert at Kathmandu-based Tribhuvan University’s Institute of Engineering. “We are heading towards the location to find out more details,” he added.

According to officials at Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the 144 megawatt Kali Gandaki Hydro project downstream – one of the few large hydroelectricity projects in the country – has halted its operations after being asked by NEA to do so. It will have a major impact on an already-energy-starved country.

Over 3,000 small and large landslides were spotted by satellites after the earthquake a month ago and experts said tracking these landslides should be a priority. “We saw many large landslides in affected areas during our field study a couple of weeks ago and there is a worrying situation. We need to think about it more seriously as the monsoon is approaching,” said Megh Raj Dhital, professor at Tribhuvan University’s Department of Geology.

The monsoon season in Nepal usually starts in the third week of June and goes on till September. The country receives 80% of its annual rainfall during this period. Heavy rainfall often triggers landslides, a peril whose chances have increased as many of the hill slopes in the Himalayan country may have been destabilised by the April 25 quake, which was measured at 7.9 on the Richter scale.

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