Rain hampers search for dozens missing in Nepal landslide; 24 bodies recovered



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KATHMANDU, Nepal — Rescuers searched through piles of rocks and debris Friday after a landslide swept through six mountainous Nepalese villages, killing 24 people and leaving dozens more missing.

Heavy rainfall was hampering the search and rescue in Taplejung district, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of the capital, Kathmandu, where the landslide on Wednesday night caught residents asleep.

A lull in the monsoon rains on Thursday afternoon enabled a rescue helicopter to evacuate eight injured people.

Twenty-four bodies have been dug up, but dozens more are reported missing, said police official Shanti Raj Koirala.

The remote area was pounded by the highest rainfall in 27 years, according to the Nepal's Department Of Hydrology and Meteorology. The nearest town is at least five hours' away on foot when the weather is good. There are no government offices or police stations in the area.

Landslides are common in mountainous Nepal during the rainy season, which began in June and ends in September.

The Himalayan nation is still recovering from earthquakes in April and May that killed more than 8,700 people and caused massive damage, with many of the roads cut off by landslides.

Meanwhile, the government announced Thursday it would hire international experts to study trekking routes in the mountains of Nepal to see if they are safe for hikers to return.

Nineteen people were killed and scores injured in an avalanche at Mount Everest base camp triggered by the April 25 quake. Also, the trails around the Langtang valley in northern Nepal were completely damaged and an entire village buried by a landslide and avalanche set off by the earthquake.

Tens of thousands of foreigners come to Nepal every year to trek on the foothills of the Himalayan peaks. The next trekking season starts in September.

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