Nearly 200 people perish in India, Nepal rains******
Nearly 200 people have died in floods and landslides in India and Nepal, officials said yesterday, with whole families buried in their homes and two young girls swept away as forecasters warned of yet more heavy rain.
Experts say they were victims of the ever-more unpredictable and extreme weather that has hit South Asia in recent years caused by climate change and exacerbated by deforestation and excessive development.
Nepal recorded the sharpest rise in casualties, with officials saying that 88 people have died, among them a family of six whose house was obliterated by a sudden avalanche of soil and debris.
"All district disaster management committees have been actively working in rescue and relief operations," emergencies official Dijan Bhattarai said.
In the Himalayan northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, 55 people were confirmed yesterday to have died – five of whom were from a single family whose house was buried by a massive landslide.
Many bridges and roads have been damaged and many towns have been cut off, and the army has been brought in to restore contact and reach thousands of people stranded.
Five people were killed in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, including two girls aged 8 and 10 from the same family swept away, as heavy rains pounded the hills of Darjeeling and other districts.
WHO chief warns COVID******
World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently refuted the narrative that the Omicron variant signals the COVID-19 mitigating into a mild disease, warning that the pandemic is far from over.。
"This pandemic is nowhere near over," Tedros told reporters from the WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Singapore's Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao paper reported on Thursday.。
The Omicron variant is much more contagious than previous strains and has spread rapidly since it was first detected in southern Africa in November.。
"Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading," Tedros said Tuesday.。
"Make no mistake: Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities," he added.。