LUCKNOW, INDIA — Indian authorities launched a search operation Sunday after part of a mountain glacier broke, sending a massive flood of water and debris slamming into two dams and damaging a number of homes. At least three people were killed and 140 were missing.
The flood was caused when a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand on Sunday morning. A video shared by officials and taken from the side of steep hillside shows a wall of water surging into one of the dams and breaking it into pieces with little resistance before continuing to roar downstream.
The Rishiganga hydropower plant was destroyed, while the Dhauliganga hydropower was damaged, said Vivek Pandey, a spokesman for paramilitary Indo Tibetan Border Police.
Pandey said three bodies were recovered near a tunnel at the Dhauliganga project, where at least 16 workers remained trapped. Another 140 workers at the two plants were missing, he said.
Ravi Bejaria, a government spokesman, said some houses were also damaged in the flooding.
Officials said when the glacier broke it sent water trapped behind it as well as mud and other debris surging down the mountain and into other bodies of water. An advisory was issued urging people living on the banks of the Alaknanda River to move to safer places immediately.
Several teams of rescuers were rushed to the affected area, officials said.
The Himalayan area has a chain of power projects on the Alaknanda River and its tributaries.
In 2013, thousands of people were killed in Uttarakhand after heavy rains triggered landslides and floods, washing away thousands of houses and roads and cutting communication links in many parts of the state.
This story has been corrected to show that authorities launched their search operation on Sunday, not Saturday.