Around 150 people were reported missing with fourteen bodies recovered, and two hydro power projects and a key bridge severely damaged, by a flood likely set off by a glacial breach that surged through the Rishiganga river in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district Sunday morning, officials said. Among those missing are labourers at the project sites, over 30 staff members and two police personnel.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said over 35 people were trapped in a tunnel blocked by debris at an NTPC project that is under construction in the Tapovan area, five km downstream of Rishiganga. A motorable bridge and four other small bridges were damaged, cutting access by road to over 11 villages in the area. Helicopters of the Army, IAF and private operators have been engaged to ensure supplies to these villages. Local officials cited preliminary reports to attribute the floods to a “glacier break” near Joshimath in the district. But scientists are ascertaining the possibility of a breach in a glacial lake — a phenomenon known as glacial lake outburst flood — probably caused by an avalanche being the likely reason. PM Modi approves ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for victim, 50k for those seriously injured in Chamoli avalanche. A portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, triggering an avalanche and flooding in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers that washed away hydroelectric stations, swept away homes and many missing.
A Chamoli district official said four bodies were recovered near Raini village, which bore the brunt of the surge. The official said that about seven villages located on the route to the China border got disconnected from Raini after small bridges in the vicinity got washed away. A bridge built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on the Joshimath-Malari highway was also destroyed.