Villagers in Bhutan, who had been collecting cordeyceps, a mushroom used in medicine, were sleeping when the flood struck shortly after midnight. Their camp near Laya, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the capital Thimphu, was razed, local media reported.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Laya today, as we hear about the tragedy that affected a group of cordeycep collectors in the highlands,” Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said in a statement.
Two helicopters were mobilized to evacuate the wounded and rescuers from the armed forces were heading to the place that can only be reached after an 11-hour walk from the nearest highway.
The people of Bhutan and neighboring Nepal go to the tall meadows every year to collect cordeycep, which is believed to have potential health benefits.
Villagers were camping next to a small stream between two small hills, The Bhutanese newspaper said.
“It is believed that they were washed away by the flood that came down the creek,” he said.
In Nepal, Interior Ministry official Dil Kumar Tamang said seven people were missing after night rains in the Sindhupalchowk district, which borders China’s Tibet region, triggered flash floods on the Melamchi River that dozens of homes flooded.
“We are collecting details of the losses,” Tamang told Reuters.
Witnesses said that several people in Melamchi had moved to higher ground with their belongings while army helicopters rescued those trapped in abandoned houses.
Authorities urged people living along the Narayani River, which flows into India as Gandak, to remain vigilant as the river flowed above the danger mark.
Nepal and Bhutan have been hit by heavy rains in the past three days as the annual monsoon season begins.