At least 18 people have died and 200 people are still missing in northern India, after a glacier breached on Sunday Himalaya, which caused a river to flash flood, authorities reported
Some 200 rescuers resumed rescue efforts at dawn Monday, a spokesman for the Indotibetan Border Police (ITBP) told AFP.
At least 200 people are missing and 18 bodies have already been recoveredUttarakhand State Prime Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat told reporters.
Local police chief Ashok Kumar spoke on Sunday of 200 missing in just two power plants located at the Richiganga Dam. Some workers were blocked in two clogged tunnels by the torrent of water, mud and stones that unleashed the rupture of the glacier.
Twelve people were rescued in a tunnel on Sunday, and at least 25 were still trapped in another tunnel, Piyoosh Rautela, who is responsible for state aid to disaster victims, told AFP.
Technical difficulties slowed down rescue operations in the tunnel, but 90 meters have already been cleared and are accessible, said Vivek Kumar Pandey, a local official.
“Apparently there is still another 100 meters to clear of debris,” he added.
– Like a movie –
“We were working in the tunnel, 300 meters from the exit. Suddenly, we heard whistles and shouts asking us to get out,” Rajesh Kumar, a survivor 28 years old.
“We had a glimpse of the exit when the water broke. It was like in a Hollywood movie. We thought we wouldn’t make it ”, he explained, relieved.
The torrent of water washed away the valley of the Dhauliganga River, destroying everything in its path such as roads and bridges, according to images taken by terrified inhabitants.
“There was a cloud of dust when the water passed. The earth was shaking like an earthquake, “Om Agarwal, a local, told Indian television.
The river Dhauliganga It is a tributary of the Ganges, whose waters are sacred to Hindus.
At first, the authorities declared that the dam was destroyed by the flood caused by the fall of a part of the glacier that broke off a mountain wall.
Now they evoke a possible phenomenon of brutal draining of a glacial lake (GLOF, according to the acronym in English).
“This tragedy was unpredictable,” declared Trivendra Singh Rawat.
“If the incident had occurred in the afternoon, after working hours, when the workers and workers of the works and the surroundings were already in their homes, the situation would not be so serious”added.
Villages in the mountains surrounding the river were evacuated and authorities assured that the greatest danger of flood it already happened.
– A “sinister memory” –
The Secretary General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, On Sunday he sent his condolences to the families of the victims and to the entire country.
“The United Nations stands ready to contribute to ongoing relief and assistance efforts if necessary,” he added.
A little earlier, the prime minister Narendra Modi He assured that he was very aware of the relief operations. “India stands by the people of Uttarakhand and the nation prays for the safety of all in this region,” he wrote on Twitter.
The 14 glaciers that dominate the river in Nanda Devi National Park are the subject of scientific studies due to climate change and deforestation that increases the risks of detachment.
Melting a quarter of the ice Himalaya that has been observed in the last four decades is attributable to the increase in temperatures.
In 2013, massive floods due to monsoon rains killed 6,000 people in the state, prompting calls for review of development projects in Uttarakhand, particularly in isolated areas like this one from the Rishi Ganga dam.
For Vimlendhu Jha, fundador de Swechha, una ONG In defense of the environment, this disaster is a “sinister reminder” of the effects of climate change and the “incoherent development of roads, railways and power plants in ecologically fragile areas.”
“The militants and the inhabitants have not stopped opposing the big projects in the river valley,” he recalled.
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