SARDIKHOLA (KASKI), May 5: Flashflood in Seti river has left the small settlement at Kharpani, Sardikhola in ruins. Eight houses in the village, which is a popular tourist destination localed around 18 kilometers from Pokhara, were destroyed by the sudden flood and the area, normally bustling with domestic and foreign tourists and revelers, is now littered with debris.
A 25-meter high suspension bridge joining Machhapuchchhre and Sardikhola Village Development Committee (VDC) was also destroyed by the flood. Students on picnic, people going to take a dip in the hot sprin, tourists and laborers excavating stones were the hardest hit with a few still missing. The area falls in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and Machhapuchchhre Model Trek route also starts from the area.
"I had never seen such a raging flood even during monsoon," Netra Bahadur Gurung, an elderly local said. "We have suffered from an unimaginable calamity," he added.
Locals said most of the residents of Gurung Basti in Kharapani survived becasue they had gone to attend a religious function (Arghu) at a relative´s place nearby early in the morning. "Many youths go to the area for merry-making in the afternoon and the casualty would have been much higher had the incident occurred then." said Jagannath Adhikari, Secretary of Sardikhola VDC.
Hitkaji Gurung, another local, said people of neighboring Bharabhari village had called them on the phone to warn of the flood. "Many could flee while those who could not were swept away. Many lives were saved by the warning," he added.
´Village swept away right before my eyes´
--Udaya Bahadur Gurung
I had reached Kharapani to deliver vehicle parking receipts in Kharapani. I saw the huge flood arriving with a thunderous roar and locals started to flee. There were two buses at the Kharapani ground with five to seven passengers disembarking from one of them.
The passengers were swept away right before my eyes and the drivers backed the buses in haste. Most of the locals had gone to attend a religious function Arghu and a majority of people at Kharapani at the time of disaster were outsiders. I managed to rescue two people with much difficulty.
´I survived by clutching roots of a tree´
I am a tractor driver. I had gone there to bring stones from Seti river. I heard a friend, who was nearby, shouting to us to flee even as the laborers were loading stones. I ran in haste and somehow managed to clutch the roots of a tree in the cliff. The tractor was swept away. I would have died had it not been for that friend. I think I was destined to survive. The sound of the raging flood was like that of a big airplane flying nearby.