The resort city of Sauraha in southern Nepal has been struck by severe floods that cut power to over 100,000 people and left a large number of tourists stranded in hotels. With roads blocked and bridges down, the government decided to send in a squad of rescue elephants.
The BBC quotes a Sauraha hotel owner who said elephants have been employed to convey stranded tourists to safe roads and airports. Reuters reports that some 300 people were evacuated from a popular jungle safari park with the help of elephants and tractor trailers.
AFP broadcast some footage of the rescue elephants in action:
Animals are also being rescued from flooded parks, including the Kaziranga National Park, which is home to the world’s largest population of endangered one-horned rhinos. Nepal’s forest minister told Reuters that nearly 90 percent of the park is now under water.
The flooding is so severe that 26 of Nepal’s 75 districts have either been flooded or hit with landslides. At least 111 people have been killed across the country, with 35 more missing at the last count. Estimates of the death toll soared over 220 when victims in India and Bangladesh were added.
60,000 homes have been wiped out, and farmland flooding could lead to serious food shortages, especially since the rains came right after the rice crops were planted.
Al-Jazeera reports that residents in the most severely flooded Nepalese districts are blaming the government for failing to take needed precautions against the monsoon season and acting too slowly to distribute aid to flood victims. China announced a million-dollar aid package for Nepal on Tuesday.