March 5, 2021

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150 feared dead as glacier breaks and hits dam in northern India

At least 150 people are feared dead in northern India after part of a Himalayan glacier broke off, sending a flood of water and debris into two hydroelectric dams.

A portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in the Tapovan area of Uttarakhand state on Sunday, with the subsequent flooding damaging the Rishiganga and Dhauliganga hydropower projects, officials said.

At least 150 people working at the two power plants are now missing and feared dead, a state official said.

Local police said eight bodies had already been recovered.

Several teams of rescuers were rushed to the affected area, officials said. Pic: AP
Image: Several teams of rescuers were rushed to the affected area, officials said. Pic: AP
Floods of water, mud and debris flowing at Chamoli District after a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, India.
Image: The neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most
populous, put its riverside areas on high alert. Pic: AP

Eyewitness Sanjay Singh Rana, who lives on the upper reaches of the river, told Reuters news agency: “It came very fast, there was no time to alert anyone. I felt that even we would be swept away.”

Officials said the breaking glacier released water trapped behind it as well as sending mud and other debris surging down the mountain and into other bodies of water.

Some houses were also damaged in the flooding and an evacuation of homes on the banks of the Alaknanda river was issued immediately.

Army soldiers have already been deployed and helicopters were doing an aerial observation of the area. Pic: AP
Image: Army soldiers have already been deployed and helicopters were doing an aerial observation of the area. Pic: AP

Several teams of rescuers were rushed to the affected area, officials said.

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“India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on
Twitter.

150 people who work in the power plant are missing and feared dead. Pic: AP
Image: There is a string of hydroelectric power plants along the Alaknanda River and its tributaries. Pic: AP

In 2013, more than 1,000 people were killed in Uttarakhand after heavy rain triggered landslides and floods, washing away thousands of houses and roads.