Explained: How glaciers can burst and send floods downstream

By PTI
NEW DELHI: A team of scientists, flown to Dehradun after the glacier burst in Uttarakhand, left for the Joshimath area on Monday for surveillance and reconnaissance.

The scientists, belonging to the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), were flown to the Uttarakhand capital on Sunday night.

“A team of scientists of DRDO-SASE, flown in last night to Dehradun, is leaving for Joshimath area for surveillance and reconnaissance,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

A portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, triggering an avalanche and a deluge in the Alaknanda river system that washed away hydroelectric stations, leaving at least 10 people dead and 143 others missing.

The sudden flood in the middle of the day in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers — all intricately linked tributaries of the Ganga — triggered widespread panic and large-scale devastation in the high mountain areas.

Two power projects – NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project – were extensively damaged with scores of labourers trapped in tunnels as the waters came rushing in.

Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said 153 people were missing from the two hydel projects at Raini and Tapovan out of which 10 bodies have been recovered while 143 are still missing.

“The efforts are focussed at the moment on rescuing 30-35 people trapped in a 250-meter-long tunnel at Tapovan,” he said.

Meanwhile, IAF teams left for the avalanche-hit areas early on Monday to ramp up relief efforts, while rescuers pulled out three more bodies of the people missing in the glacier burst.

Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said 143 people are still missing, a day after the glacier burst triggered a massive avalanche and floods in the Alaknanda river system.

The efforts are focused at the moment on rescuing 30-35 people trapped in a 250-meter long tunnel at Tapovan, he said.

A total of “153 people were missing from the two hydel projects at Raini and Tapovan out of which 10 bodies have been recovered while 143 are still missing,” Kumar said.

The two hydel projects bore the brunt of the “one time ” mishap in which the Rishi Ganga hydel project at Raini was totally destroyed and the one at Tapovan suffered partial damage, he said.

Though all arrangements are in place there is no need for any heli rescue in the affected areas.

Only two villages including Raini are cut off where essentials are being supplied, the DGP said.

The sudden flood in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers — all intricately linked tributaries of the Ganga — triggered widespread panic and large-scale devastation in the high mountain areas.

Homes along the way were also swept away as the waters rushed down the mountain sides in a raging torrent.

There were fears of damage in human settlements downstream, including in heavily populated areas.

Many villages were evacuated and people have taken to safer areas.