A Nepalese river that flooded in 2008 forcing millions of people to abandon their homes in neighbouring India is threatening to burst its banks again, authorities warned on Friday.
At least 60,000 people in Nepal lost their homes in the 2008 Saptakosi river flood, but the devastation was far worse in neighbouring India, where the government said around two and a half million people were affected.
Many victims are still living in temporary housing.
Nepalese authorities said Friday that workers were battling to stop the swollen river breaching its embankments using sandbags and netting after heavy monsoon rains pushed water levels dangerously high.
“This is similar to the incident in 2008, when the river overflowed due to the monsoon rains and breached the embankments,” said local official Manik Lal Shrestha.
“Only this time round, the damage could be worse, because the breach is likely to appear further up from the barrage, and the population has also increased,” he added.
Shrestha said more than 100,000 people living in eastern Nepalwould be affected if the embankments burst, adding emergency services had been placed on high alert.
The two countries traded blame for the failure of flood defences in the aftermath of the 2008 disaster, with Indian officials saying their efforts to reinforce the barrages were thwarted by Nepal.
Under a 1954 agreement, Nepal allowed India to construct the series of dams and spurs on the Saptakosi, which lies 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of the capital Kathmandu and flows down into the Ganges.