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May 24, 2017

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Nepal landslide death toll hits 34; scores still missing, presumed dead

KATMANDU--Rescuers on Monday discovered 25 more bodies buried under tons of mud and trees following a massive landslide in northeast Nepal feared to have killed at least 160 people.

Thirty-four corpses, including seven children, have been pulled from the landslide that crushed hamlets along a river in Sindhupalchok district before dawn on Saturday following monsoon rains, an official said.

"The death toll has now reached 34. That includes 18 women, seven men, seven children and two bodies we have not been able to identify," regional police chief Subodh Ghimire told AFP.

"We expect to find many more bodies," said Ghimire from badly hit Jure village.

The head of Nepal's disaster management division, Yadav Prasad Koirala, told AFP, "we think the final death toll could be around 165 or higher."

More than 100 police and soldiers, using bulldozers and excavators, were digging through mounds of mud and rocks to reach more bodies.

Lack of official records left authorities struggling to determine the exact number of people missing, Koirala said.

Traumatized villagers kept an anxious vigil at the landslide site, some 120 kilometers (74 miles) northeast of Katmandu, in the hope missing loved ones would be found by rescuers.

Kalu Tamang, a 41-year-old cook who lost eight members of his family, including his wife, mother and four children, said he was desperate "to see their faces one last time."

"I want to carry out the last rites for my family members, I am waiting for their bodies," Tamang told AFP.

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