Published: 08th February 2021
What the FAQ: All you need to know about the Uttarakhand floods and why it happened
Officials said that so far 14 bodies have been recovered from the site and over 170 people have been reported missing
Yet again on Sunday morning, we all woke up to the news of another Uttarakhand tragedy. Hundreds have been reported missing and several bodies have been recovered. Besides life, the flood caused by a glacial breach had also left several projects and infrastructure severely damaged. Here’s all you need to know about the disaster.
Where and when did the disaster strike?
A part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, leading to massive floods. The glacial breach, supposedly a very rare occurrence, surged through the Rishiganga river, officials said. A glacial breach happens when a glacially eroded trough cuts through a ridge and so breaches a former watershed. It is formed when the outflow of a glacier is impeded, its thickness consequently increases, and ultimately a new escape route (the breach) is exploited.
How many are dead and reported missing?
Officials said that so far 14 bodies have been recovered from the site and over 170 people have been reported missing. Among those missing are labourers at the project sites, over 30 staff members and a few 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, 5 km downstream of Rishiganga.
What kind of property damage has the flood caused?
Many villages were evacuated as floods swept away several bridges, damaged homes and the nearby NTPC power plant, and washed away a small hydro-power project near Rishiganga. A motorable bridge and four other small bridges were damaged, cutting off access to 11 villages.
What caused the glacier breach?
A 2019 study that warned about the dangers of climate change and said Himalayan glaciers have been melting twice as fast since the start of this century. Temperatures vary from place to place, but from 2000 to 2016 they have averaged one degree Celsius higher than those from 1975 to 2000, an Indian Express report said.
What relief has the government announced?
It has been reported that the state government has announced ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of those killed. The Prime Minister’s Office posted on Twitter that Modi has approved an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured.