At least 13 people have been killed and others are missing after flash floods caused devastation in western Nepal.
The deluge destroyed houses and swept away cattle in Kharapani, a village near Mount Annapurna, after a mountain river burst its banks.
Mount Annapurna is one of the Himalayan country's most popular tourist destinations and three Russian tourists were reported to be among the missing.
"There are 13 dead and 17 missing, including three Russian tourists. The missing include two young students who were in a group of 16 on an outing," said Ramindra Chhetri, a spokesman for the Nepalese Army.
"Two army helicopters and a private airliner have been deployed to the area. We have army rescue teams scouring five villages for survivors."
Bishnu Paudel, a conservationist, said some people had fled to the hills to escape the deluge.
"The water has risen so high that it was up to a bridge. I found two truck drivers who had survived by fleeing to a hill nearby," said Paudel.
Nepalese broadcasters also showed flood water sweeping into Pokhara, Nepal's second city.
A spokesman for Baburam Bhattarai, the Nepalese prime minister, said authorities had been ordered to conduct rescue operations without any delay.
"Bhattarai is monitoring the incident and is in touch with the authorities in Pokhara. An army helicopter with experts has also been despatched as per his request," the spokesman said.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|