Four people died in Tarai districts on Tuesday due to growing chill, taking the toll in the region to 22 this winter.
Thick fog continues to engulf Tarai villages and towns, leaving children and sick and elderly people from poor families vulnerable. Landless daily wage workers in particular have complained of the lack of clothes, mattresses and blankets to shield themselves from cold.
Sukhani Devi Tharu, 60, from Parsa district, Hopana Soren, 80, of Jhapa and Janak Hajara, 71, and Rima Kumari Yadav, 12, from Rautahat district became the latest victims on Tuesday morning.
In Rautahat, seven people have died in the past week. In Mahottari district, Lal Mohammad Rain, 40, and Gonaur Mahato, 60, succumbed to cold on Monday. Cold-related fatalities have reached seven in total there this winter.
According to the Eastern Regional Police Office, four persons have died of cold-related ailments in Siraha district. Lakhan Pasawan, 60, Bhouba Saday Mushahar, Sahadevi Mandal, 50, and an infant died in a settlement of landless Dalits. The number of deaths reported in Morang and Saptari districts is three and one, respectively.
In most Tarai districts the sun appears late in the afternoon or not at all on some days. Poor families said they have no firewood even for cooking purposes. Some use straw to fuel fires and sit around. Families that do not have enough beds spread straw on the floor and sleep there. Many even use mats to cover themselves at night.
The adverse weather has affected people’s movement too. In some districts, schools and colleges have been shut to protect students.
There has been a significant rise in Rupandehi and Makwanpur districts in the number of patients visiting hospitals with problems such as pneumonia, cold-induced diarrhoea, cough and fever. In Bara, locals are confined to their homes while children have stopped going to school.
“We keep ourselves warm by the fire day and night,” said Bambholi Sah, 60, of Narahi-6 in Bara. It is frustratingly cold in other Tarai districts of Siraha, Sarlahi, Banke, Bardiya, Chitwan and Kapilvastu.
According to Pradip Kumar Shrestha, chief of the National Emergency Operation Centre under the Home Ministry, local authorities have been directed to provide blankets, firewood and first aid kit for the vulnerable population.
The Meteorological Forecasting Division says foggy and misty mornings with cold breezes will continue in Tarai in the next few days.
(With inputs from our district correspondents)