Seven killed as landslide hits Nepal, sparking flood fears

KATHMANDU - A massive landslide in northeastern Nepal left at least seven people dead and dozens missing on Saturday, putting several villages at risk of flash floods due to debris blocking a major river, officials said.

The landslide struck in the early hours, burying two dozen homes before dumping mud and stones into the Sunkoshi river, northeast of the capital Kathmandu, an official in the prime minister's office told AFP.

"We are trying to find a way to release the blocked water safely," said Prakash Adhikari, press adviser to the prime minister.

Nepal's government has declared the landslide-hit area a "flood crisis zone" and ordered the army to use explosives to try to clear the river.

A police official at the scene of the disaster said seven bodies had been retrieved with dozens more missing.

"Police and army officials are trying to find the missing people and evacuate the villages on the riverside," local police official, Bharat Bahadur Bohara, told AFP by phone.

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

About 150 people were feared dead in neighbouring India after a landslide hit a village in the country's western state of Maharashtra last week.