updated 7/2/2009 10:24:44 AM ET 2009-07-02T14:24:44

Landslides triggered by monsoon rains swept through three villages in Nepal's mountainous west Thursday, burying homes and killing at least nine people, a ministry official said.

The government was preparing to send rescue teams to the three affected areas, but could not say how long it would take for them to reach their destinations in the remote mountains north and west of the capital Katmandu, said home ministry spokesman Thir Bahadur Chetri.

A landslide buried a house, killing three members of a family sleeping inside early Thursday in Deurali village in Kaski district, Chetri said. The village is about 125 miles west of the capital, Katmandu.

Another three family members were buried in their house and believed killed in Damauli village in neighboring Tanahun district, Chetri said. Villagers were trying to dig through debris, but believed they were already dead, he said.

A landslide Wednesday night in a village in Mugu, about 250 miles northwest of Katmandu, also killed three boys.

Further details about the incidents were not immediately available because of the remoteness of the villages, which are only accessible on foot.

The landslide deaths were the first reported since the beginning of the monsoon season this week, which has started several weeks later than usual. Hundreds of such fatalities are reported each year during the rainy season.

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