A huge hill had suddenly collapsed at 2 am, burying two dozen homes before dumping mud and stones into the Sunkoshi river at Mankha village, 75 km northeast of the capital Kathmandu, police spokesperson Ganesh KC said.

Eight bodies were recovered during a joint rescue operation carried out by army and police with the help of the local people, the official said.

The death toll is expected to rise as several people are feared to have gone missing in the landslide.

The Sunkoshi river was totally blocked and the water was going everywhere in the village including the Araniko Highway that connects Kathmandu with Tibet.

A large pool was formed in the area after the water was blocked. Water level in the river has been increasing.

High alert has been sounded and locals are being evacuated. Sixteen people were rescued from the area. An army chopper has been deployed to intensify the rescue work.

KC said the authorities were trying to conduct a controlled blast to funnel off the water.

The landslide has buried Arniko Highway at Dam Site in Mankha VDC bringing traffic along the highway to a standstill.

Locals in Barhabishe, Lamesanghu, Khadichaur, Dolalghat, among other surrounding areas have moved to higher grounds fearing that the blocked river may burst anytime.

However, there is no report of any tourist in the area being hit by the landslide.

"The Joint Tourism Coordination Committee has instructed all the travel agencies and tour operators to inform if any tourist is stranded or is in trouble," said Ramesh Dhamala, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal.

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