More than 170 missing people and at least seven dead is the latest balance provided by the Indian authorities after the detachment of a huge fragment of a glacier in the Himalayan mountain range, occurred this Sunday first thing in the morning in northern India. In his fall, the block of ice carried a large amount of rocks and mud, causing the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers to overflow, as well as razing two hydroelectric plants under construction and also tear down several bridges and cause very significant damage on different roads.
According to data provided by the State Center for Disaster Management, the incident occurred near the town of Chamoli, in the Indian state of Uttarajand, and forced eemergency evacuation of several thousand people in the area as a result of the huge flood. The water flowed through much of the Dhauliganga River valley, destroying everything in its path sAs can be seen in several videos that some inhabitants of this region filmed with their mobile phones.
‘A cloud of dust rose as the water advanced. The ground shook like an earthquake“Om Agarwal, one of the locals, told television. The rescue forces numbered 350 troops, while another 600 were in reserve to relieve them and try to maintain the operation throughout the night. The number of deaths is expected to increase in the next few hours since, in addition to the personnel of the two hydroelectric plants that were destroyed by the flood, There were dozens of people working on various roads and a railway line, not forgetting the inhabitants of several villages who have not yet met.
Trapped in a tunnel
One of the points of attention of the personnel of the Indian disaster response force was a tunnel where a score of people had been trapped. “We are trying to reach them”said one of those responsible for the operation, who described how because the main road was completely destroyed they had to access the place by a slope thanks to the use of mountain ropes. The tunnel, according to several witnesses, was practically filled with stones and mud.
Most of the missing are workers from two power plants washed away by the flood, said Uttarakhand State Police Chief Ashok Kumar. “There were about 50 workers at the Rishi Ganga plant and we don’t have any information about them. Another 150 employees were at the Tapovan facility and we also have no data, “he added. With that There could be at least 200 people unaccounted for, although the last official balance still indicates 170, according to the State Prime Minister himself. citado, Trivendra Singh Rawat.
The authorities they had to empty the dams in the area to stop the flood, whose waters even reached the Ganges. For this reason, the authorities prohibited the population from approaching the banks of the sacred river. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was controlling the rescue operation. “India supports Uttarakhand and the entire nation prays for the safety of all who are there,” he said via Twitter.
Climate change and deforestation
A total of 14 glaciers are found on the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers in Nanda Devi National Park. According to government sources, all of them are being The subject of different scientific studies due to growing fears regarding the effects that climate change and deforestation may have on them. “Avalanches are common phenomena in the watershed,” said MPS Bisht, Director of the Uttarakhand Space Application Center.
The devastating floods caused by anticipation of heavy monsoon rains in Uttarakhand in 2013 -In just one month the rainfall grew by 68% – at that time it caused more than 6,700 deaths or disappearances due to floods, landslides and building collapses, which led to a review of the development plans that were underway in this State, particularly in isolated areas such as those near the Rishi Ganga dam.
Uma Bharti, former minister of water resources, pointed out that when she was a member of the Government there requested that hydroelectric projects in “sensitive” areas of the Himalayas, such as the Ganges and its tributaries, be frozen in view of the risks involved in the event of possible landslides of important force in the famous mountain range.
Vimlendhu Jha, founder of the environmental organization Swechha, said for his part that the disaster occurred this Sunday it was an “expected disaster” due to the effects of climate change and the “random development of roads, railways and power plants in ecologically sensitive areas”. “Activists and residents have consistently opposed the big projects in the river valley,” he added.