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Nepali Villagers Flee After Landslide Cuts Off Major River

Vehicles pass by a landslide area after the earthquake in Gorkha district last week. A fresh landslide in the same area has cut off a major river, threatening villages downstream.

Hundreds of villagers in Nepal have fled to higher ground after a landslide today cut off the flow of a major river, creating a dam that could burst at any time, inundating towns downstream.

NPR's Julie McCarthy, reporting from New Delhi, reports that authorities are warning residents that the blockage of the Kali Gandaki River could burst and that torrents of water could sweep away villages for miles downstream.

"We have asked villagers along the river side in these districts to move to safer places," Interior Ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told Reuters.

"Mountain slopes have become fragile due to earthquakes. This could be a result," Dhakal said.

Local media quotes Nepali police as saying the lake created behind the landslide has reached a depth of 500 feet and stretches for more than a mile in an area north of Beni Bazaar, about 125 miles northwest of the capital, Kathmandu.

The landslide occurred one month after Nepal was shaken by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake then again by a 7.3 aftershock. The seismic events killed more than 8,500 people and injuring 16,800 others.

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