The Indian Army has rescued eight bodies and around 384 people on April 24, a day after a glacier near Uttarakhand’s Niti Valley broke off on Friday, April 23, the Indian Express reported. The rescued people were engaged at a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) camp till evening.
According to a statement by the Army, the incident took place at around 4 PM on Friday, when “an avalanche hit a location about 4 km ahead of Sumna on Sumna- Rimkhim road in Uttarakhand, on the Joshimath-Malari-Girthidobla-Sumna-Rimkhim axis”.
While rescue operations were hindered in the aftermath of the incident due to inclement weather conditions, the Army has resumed the rescue operations which are currently underway and more people continue to be rescued in batches, the IE report added.
There is one BRO detachment and two labour camps in the area nearby where road construction is going on, the Army statement said. Further, there is an army camp around 3 km from Sumna, it said, adding that the entire area had been experiencing heavy rains and snow for the last five days.
Also, multiple landslides have led to the road access being disconnected at four or five locations, and BRO task force teams are engaged in clearing off the roads.
As reported by the Indian Express, the Army rescued 150 General Reserve Engineer Force persons who were at the BRO camp on Friday night. “After the initial 55 and then 149, four more batches of 37, 22, 9 and 19 were saved and brought to safety, taking the total count to 291 during the night,” the report quoted an Army official as saying. But the rescue operations were halted at night as the weather turned hostile and the Army personnel were directed continue in the morning, the official said.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat responded through a tweet saying, “The district administration has been instructed to get complete information about the case. For NTPC and other projects, orders have been given to stop work at night so that no untoward incident occurs.”
Also read: Chamoli Disaster: Locals and Workers Face Horror of Development
Earlier in February, flash floods in Chamoli district had left at least 56 dead and several others were reported missing when a glacial burst took place in the Nanda Devi glacier leading to floods in the tributaries of Ganga – Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers.
The sudden massive flood caused extensive damages to two power projects—the Tapovan Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga hydel project--with hundreds of workers trapped in tunnels as water rushed in no time.
NewsClick had reported earlier that “while the exact cause behind the Uttarakhand glacier outburst has not been ascertained yet, some scientists have pointed out the relation between climate change and the increased occurrence of such incidents”. “This year, there was reduced snowfall in the higher elevations,” according to a scientist reported in Down to Earth.
Farooq Azam, assistant professor of glaciology and hydrology at IIT Indore, has earlier said that the warming of the region—earlier the temperature of the ice ranged between -6 to -20 degree Celsius, but it is now -2 degrees, made the glacier susceptible to melting.