Uttarakhand glacier burst: Dozens missing after India dam collapses

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    Dozens of people are missing and feared dead due to a crash in a dam in the Himalayan glacier and heavy flooding in northern India.

    As soon as the dam opened, a deluge of water flowed through a valley in the state of Uttarakhand.

    The villages have been evacuated, but officials have warned that more than 125 people may be trapped in Dhar.

    The video showed flood waters in the area stalling, causing its destruction.

    “It came very fast, there was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, who lives near Dhauli Ganga river, told news agency Reuters.

    “I thought we would get carried away too.”

    Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said that 125 people have been confirmed missing so far, but this number may increase.

    “Seven bodies have been recovered from the site and rescue operations are on,” Mr. Singh Rawat told reporters on Sunday.

    Most of the missing people were employees of two power projects near the broken dam in Tapovan area.

    Uttarakhand Police Chief Ashok Kumar said that more than 50 people working in the power plant near the dam, known as the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project, are feared dead.

    But he said some workers were rescued from the site.

    The emergency crew managed to rescue 16 laborers who were trapped inside a tunnel, which was filled with debris.

    Mr. Singh Rawat said that the police and army teams are “doing their best to save the lives of the workers”.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he is monitoring the situation. Soon after speaking with the Minister of State, he wrote on Twitter, “The nation prays for the safety of all.”

    Dozens of emergency personnel have been deployed in the area

    Emergency personnel are evacuating in dozens of villages.

    Military helicopters and other aircraft along with hundreds of soldiers have been sent to the area.

    Singh Rawat said, “The water level of the river is now one meter (3.2 ft) above normal, but the flow is decreasing.”

    The neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh has put some riverine areas on high alert for floods.

    Experts are investigating the incident.

    What caused the glacial burst?

    Naveen Singh Khadka, BBC World Service environmental correspondent

    Where it happened, his foresight has no definite answer yet.

    Experts say a major possibility is that glaciers broke due to rising temperatures, causing large amounts of water to drain.

    And this can cause rocks and mud due to avalanches.

    DP Doval, a senior glaciologist who retired from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, said, “This is a strong possibility because there was a huge amount of sediment flowing into it.”

    Experts say that avalanches can also hit a glacial lake, which can burst if there is such a source of water.

    Another possibility is that an avalanche or landslide may have damaged the river for some time, causing it to burst after rising water levels.

    Uttarakhand, in the Western Himalayas, is prone to floods and landslides.

    About 6,000 people are believed to have died in the floods in June 2013, caused by the heaviest monsoon rains in decades.

    Sunday’s disaster has prompted a review of power projects in ecologically sensitive mountains by environmental groups.


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