Uttarakhand Glacier Burst: Heavy loss of Life

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Twenty bodies have been recovered and nearly 200 people still missing after the Uttarakhand disaster apparently caused by a glacier burst, officials said Monday, as multiple agencies worked at rescuing over 30 workers feared trapped in a tunnel at a power project site.

Officials at the State Emergency Operation Centre said 197 people are still missing, a day after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier possibly burst through its banks in Chamoli district.

It appeared to have triggered an avalanche and a deluge that ripped through the Alaknanda river system in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.

Experts, however, are still trying to determine the exact cause of the disaster in Joshimath.

“It was due to lakhs of metric tonnes of snow sliding down abruptly from a trigger point on top of a naked hill,” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat told reporters after meeting ISRO scientists.

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After a comprehensive analysis is undertaken to find out the reasons, “we will build an elaborate plan to avert any potential tragedy going forward”, he said in an interview with PTI.

After a comprehensive analysis is undertaken to find out the reasons, “we will build an elaborate plan to avert any potential tragedy going forward”, he said in an interview with PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured a delegation of Uttarakhand MPs of his government’s support to the people of the state and said it is working to strengthen infrastructure there to deal with any natural disaster in the future.

Damage Cause by the Glacier Burst

The 197 reported missing include those working at hydel power project sites and villagers whose homes nearby were washed away with the force of the raging waters, officials said.

Two power projects — NTPC’s 480 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad project and the 13.2 MW Rishiganga Hydel Project — were extensively damaged with scores of labourers caught in tunnels as the waters came rushing in.

Rescue work is in progress

Rescue efforts in the affected areas near Joshimath, about 295 km from here, gained momentum with teams of the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) coordinating to rescue 30-35 people feared trapped in a tunnel at the Tapovan-Vishnugad project.

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More teams have been sent to the site on Mi-17 helicopters that landed at the helipad in Joshimath, NDRF chief SN Pradhan said in a Twitter post.

Some teams from the Army, including from the Medical Corps, also reached the disaster spot, an official supervising the operation said.

Sniffer dogs and heavy mechanical equipment, including bulldozers and JCBs, were deployed.

Officials said 27 people were rescued alive. Of these, 12 were saved from the smaller of the two tunnels at the Tapovan-Vishnugad project site and 15 from the Rishiganga site.

Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar added that efforts were focused on rescuing 30-35 labourers trapped in a 250-meter tunnel at Tapovan.

The work was complicated as the tunnel is slightly curved, making it difficult to clear the debris and silt blocking it.

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Harshit Bhasin
I’m a student currently doing B.A(hons) English from Dyal Singh College, Delhi University. I like to read and write and apart from it, I like watching movies, series, animated series (Animes) and playing games. I’m also a sportsperson and I like to perform outside activities regularly.

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