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Rupture of a glacier in the Himalayas: at least seven dead and a hundred missing


More than a hundred people were missing Sunday, February 7 in northern India after the rupture of a Himalayan glacier, which caused a flash flood by falling into a river.

When the night prevented further research, seven bodies were discovered, according to the authorities of the State of Uttarakhand, who reported 125 to 200 missing according to the sources.

The huge body of water has devastated the Dhauliganga River valley, destroying everything in its path, submerging a hydroelectric complex and washing away roads and bridges, according to images taken by terrified locals. “There was a cloud of dust when the water came through. The earth was shaking like during an earthquake ”local resident Om Agarwal told Indian television.

Many social media users filmed or photographed the disaster. Videos show the body of water ravaging a narrow valley below the power plant, leaving roads and bridges destroyed in its path.

Dozens of employees of the two power plants installed on the Richiganga dam are missing, as well as residents of the region, washed away while tending to their livestock, according to the authorities.

Located in the Himalayan massif, Uttarakhand is an Indian state where the Ganges rises. The Dhauliganga river is a tributary of the Ganges. Authorities emptied two dams to prevent raging waters from swelling the Ganges in the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar, and banned residents of both towns from approaching the shores of the holy river.

Very studied glaciers

Fourteen glaciers overlook the river in Nanda Devi National Park. They are the subject of scientific studies, due to growing concerns about climate change and deforestation. A quarter of the Himalayan ice has melted over the past four decades due to rising temperatures.

“Avalanches are a common phenomenon in the watershed area”, MPS Bisht, director of the Uttarakhand Space Applications Center, told AFP. “Large landslides are also common. “

In 2013, devastating monsoon flooding killed 6,000 people in the state, prompting calls to review development projects in Uttarakhand, especially in isolated areas like the Rishi Ganga dam.

Uma Bharti, a former minister of water resources, said when she was in government she called for the freezing of hydropower projects in the Himalayan regions “Sensitive” like those of the Ganges and its tributaries.

For Vimlendhu Jha, founder of Swechha, an environmental NGO, this disaster is a “Sinister reminder” the effects of climate change and “Inconsistent development of roads, railways and power stations in environmentally sensitive areas”. “The activists and the inhabitants have continued to oppose the major projects in the valley of the river”, he stressed.



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