Landslides kill at least 21 after heavy rain in Nepal

KATHMANDU - Landslides triggered by heavy rains have left at least 21 dead and dozens missing in northeastern Nepal, prompting officials to evacuate villagers living in the riskiest areas, police said Thursday.

Rescuers struggled to reach affected villages in mountainous Taplejung district after the landslides, which hit just weeks after twin quakes killed 8,700 people, damaged roads and bridges, and swept away houses.

"We have found the bodies of 21 people and around three dozen more have been reported missing," said Shanti Raj Koirala, the district's deputy superintendent of police.

An army helicopter airlifted eight injured villagers to a local hospital.

Koirala said landslides were continuing in some areas and families in risky locations have been evacuated to safety.

"We will work on search and rescue until dark and continue our operation early tomorrow," Koirala told AFP.

Scores of people die every year from flooding and landslides during the monsoon season in Nepal.

Taplejung escaped serious damage in the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes, which triggered landslides and destroyed half a million homes, leaving thousands without shelter just weeks ahead of monsoon rains.