Monsoon Toll: Six dead, 1 missing, 125 evacuated, 17 Dzongkhags affected

As of 29th July 2016 the heavy monsoon has directly and indirectly claimed six lives and affected over 40 houses, led to evacuation of 125 individuals and families and caused a lot of infrastructure damage. One person is missing and feared dead while another is critically injured.

The effect of the monsoon has been felt in 17 Dzongkhags in some way or the other. 70 villages have been impacted.

A four year old girl and an 11 year old boy were washed away in Samtse. A Lhuentshe Dzongkhag staff died when his Maruti van veered off the road.

A man was washed away by the Amochu in Sadumadu, Phuentsholing.  More recently a man in Kanglung, Trashigang died after he unwittingly went to a landslide zone.

A Project DANTAK driver died when a landslide hit his truck on the Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang highway.

A 56 year old woman is also missing in Samtse and is feared drowned by the Kuchin Daina River.  A forest official was also injured in Sarpang by falling boulders and is in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

Around 125 families and individuals have also been affected and evacuated due to the monsoon. 63 families were affected and had to be evacuated with their goods when the floods washed away Sarpang Town. Of the 63 families around 21 of them are in a temporary shelter.

12 families had to be evacuated from Sethikhary in Gelephu of which two are residing in temporary shelters.

17 families had to be evacuated from the Amochu flood plains after the swollen river flooded a part of the workshop area. 25 huts of labourers in Punakha filled with water and they also had to be evacuated.

About 126 acres of paddy, vegetables, cardamom and other crops have also been reported destroyed in Haa Gakiling Bongo and Bjacho and Darla Gewog in Chukha. Around 32 acres of wetland in Umling Gewog, Sarpang have been affected. The Agriculture minister clarified that the potato tuber rot had set in before the monsoon rains and it was just that the rains made it worse.

Of the 40 houses affected, 30 were private buildings, 3 government structures and 7 were lhakhangs and chortens.

13 motor-able and non-motor-able bridges have been damaged or completely destroyed in Paro, Wangdi, Trongsa, Haa, Samtse, Gasa and Thimphu. There are 13 major roadblocks on the national highway and numerous other frequent minor blocks but due to continuous efforts to clear them the figures keep changing on a daily basis.

The Kamji bailey bridge construction was delayed again when a part was damaged Friday morning and is still closed with travelers taking the Pasakha-Manitar bypass. The Gelephu-Zhemgang highway is in the most severe condition and is blocked at three points; the Samtse-Tendu road needs a completely new bridge which would be completed within a week; the 34m Dzongkarlum bridge cannot be rebuild currently so a bypass is being constructed and will be open in a few days.

Department of Roads (DOR) Chief Engineer Dorji Tshering said that three teams had been deployed to the most affected areas in Sarpang, Gedu and Trongsa to assist field engineers in speeding up efforts to clear road blocks.

The Sunkosh-Dagana block at Buedlum has been cleared on Friday and vehicles have been let through.

The DDM, Ministry of Works and Human Settlements (MoWHS), Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), Royal Bodyguards (RBG), Desuung and DANTAK personnel are working with local administration, private business owners and volunteers all over the country in carrying out evacuation, mitigation and reconstruction efforts.

“Their concerted efforts have made major accomplishments within a short week,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference on Friday

Jigme Chogyal, Chief Program Officer at the Department of Disaster (DDM) said that this has already become the most damaging monsoon in the country. The onslaught of rain in the southern Dzongkhags following Cyclone Aila in 2009 had caused severe damage to livestock and crops but the landslides and floods this year have primarily damaged infrastructure like roads, bridges and buildings and with the Hydro-Met Department forecasting sustained monsoon rains till August end, the cost to properties and lives could worsen.

The monsoon is expected to last well into September but the Hydro-Met department expects precipitations at normal monsoon levels so the worst could be over.

Though not related to the monsoon rains the Disaster report says that of the nine workers of Rama Engineering Construction, an Indian company working to construct the Denchukha-Dorokha bridge in Samtse, five died, one was rescued and taken to the hospital while three are still missing as they were hit when a cable lifting a bridge part snapped. Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that deaths of these workers as unfortunate as it is, was not cause by the monsoon and so cannot be a part of the total.

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