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Tourists saved from flooded safari park in Nepal

KATHMANDU: Elephants helped rescue hundreds of tourists from a flooded jungle safari park in Nepal, officials said yesterday, as the death toll from flash floods and landslides after four days of heavy rain rose to 70.

The Rapti River overflowed its banks in Sauraha, 80km south of the capital, Kathmandu, inundating hotels and restaurants and leaving some 600 tourists stranded.

Sauraha, on the fringe of Chitwan National Park, is home to 605 rhinoceroses and is popular with foreign tourists.

"Some 300 guests were rescued on elephant backs and tractor trailers to (nearby) Bharatpur yesterday and the rest will be taken to safer places today," head of a group of Sauraha hotel owners Suman Ghimire said over the phone.

Floods have also swept the nearby north-east Indian state of Assam in the past two days, killing at least 15 people and displacing nearly 2.3 million, officials said yesterday.

Nearly 90 per cent of Assam's Kaziranga National Park, home to the world's largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros, was under water, Forest Minister Pramilla Rani Brahma said. The animals have moved to higher ground.- REUTERS

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