Natural calamities usually result in severe impacts. Recently a violent glacial avalanche erupted in India, leaving 18 dead and over 200 missing. The unprecedented incident left many in awe. Residents reported that a glacial burst prompted the incident. For it sent water torrents, rock, and dust down the mountain valley. According to experts, they do not know what caused the glacial burst. But they think that the melting of the snow in Nanda Devi might have triggered the Avalanche, more so as last week it had snowed heavily there.
Impacts of the Avalanche
Sunday’s violent Avalanche left tremendous impacts in the region. From destroying the ecosystem to projects, to lives. Reports revealed that the Avalanche had disrupted the hydroelectric projects which were ongoing in the area. Official reports stated that the rescue teams had recovered 18 dead bodies from the mountainside. And more were still missing. The majority of those missing were the people working for the two power projects in the Uttarakhand state mountains.
“As of now, around 203 people are missing,” state chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, and the number was changing as more information about people caught up in the deluge emerged from the remote area.
Videos making rounds on social showed water filling up a small dam and washing away from construction materials, and destroying small bridges. Rescue teams had to drill 1.5 miles long tunnel at the Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project to find their way downstream to rescue about thirty workers trapped.
Ashok Kumar, the state police chief, reported that they were trying their level best to rescue the victims trapped. However, he said that the trash which was in the tunnel was slowing down their progress. Since the operation kicked off, there has still not been any voice contact with the people trapped. The rescue teams had already flown a dog squad to help locate the survivors. And they had also employed heavy equipment.
What might have Caused the Glacier to Burst?
Uttarakhand is a region prone to flash floods and landslides. And such calamities have made their government start-up mitigation measures. In June 2013, the area experienced heavy Monsoon rains, which claimed the lives of about 6000 people.
Just after the accident, the Government of India deployed a team of scientists to figure out what might have triggered the glacial burst. According to Mohd Farooq Azam, assistant professor, glaciology & hydrology at the Indian Institute of Technology in Indore, glacial burst incidents seldom happen. More so in Uttarakhand, where satellite images show no existence of glacial lakes. However, the possibility of a water pocket in the region might have steered the incident.
Water pockets are lakes found inside the glaciers. Hence they might have erupted, leading to the incident. Environmental groups have alleged that construction activities at the mountain tops might have contributed to all that. Himanshu Thakkar, the co-coordinator of the South Asia network of dams, stated that there were clear government recommendations on using the explosives. Nonetheless, there have been claims of violations. The recent accident raised concerns about the strength of the dams. The people began to question whether they can withstand much force.
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