Nepal police search for 5 missing followers of ‘Buddha Boy’

Ram Bahadur Bamjan has thousands of followers who visit him in his camps, believing he is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Nepal police search for 5 missing followers of ‘Buddha Boy’

  • Ram Bahadur Bamjan became famous in southern Nepal in 2005 when many believed he was able to meditate without moving for months
  • Bamjan has thousands of followers who visit him in his camps, believing he is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama

KATMANDU, Nepal: Police in Nepal are searching for five missing followers of a spiritual leader who is believed by devotees to be a reincarnation of Buddha, officials said Monday.
Ram Bahadur Bamjan, also known as Buddha Boy, became famous in southern Nepal in 2005 when many believed he was able to meditate without moving for months while sitting beneath a tree with no food or water. He remains popular despite accusations of sexually and physically assaulting his followers.
Uma Prasad Chaturbedi of Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau said police raided three of Bamjan’s camps and are keeping him under strict surveillance as they search for the five missing people.
Chaturbedi said jungle areas near the camps were dug up after they received information that bodies might be buried there, but none was found.
The families of the five missing followers have filed cases with the authorities seeking to find them.
Bamjan has thousands of followers who visit him in his camps, believing he is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha. Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims.


More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 24 April 2019
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

  • Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday
  • The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.