Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Sunday said a team of scientific experts will investigate the exact cause of the glacier break at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday. He announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh for the family of those killed. Another Rs 2 lakh compensation will be given from the Prime Minister’s National Relief.
Rawat said 125 people were missing but the number could rise. So far, the bodies of seven people had been recovered. The glacial burst led to an avalanche and massive flooding along the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers.
The Rishiganga Power Project and Tapovan power plant have been damaged, the police said. Officials told PTI that more than 150 labourers working in the power project are missing.
The chief minister said teams from the police, the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, as well as from the national and state disaster response forces, had been deployed for search-and-rescue operations in the area.
Environment experts have called for a review of power projects in the ecologically sensitive mountains.
The helpline numbers released by the government are: 1070/9557444486
Here are the major updates of the day:
9.13 pm: After the glacier break, environment experts say that increasing human intervention in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region is making it more vulnerable to climate change, reports PTI.
“While exact cause of this incident is yet to be ascertained and needs an honest investigation, it is evident that increasing human interventions in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region are making it more vulnerable to climate change,” says Avinash Chanchal, senior climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India said. “Heavy construction work in the fragile eco-sensitive zones should be avoided.”
9.10 pm: National Disaster Response Force Inspector General Amrendra Kumar Sengar says since the flow of water was very fast in the beginning, bodies are being recovered far away from the incident site, reports ANI. “Some are trapped in deep areas and others in tunnels, so there is issue of access,” he adds.
9.01 pm: Indo-Tibetan Border Police Public Relations Officer Vivek Pandey says that the force is focusing on the second tunnel, where around 30 people are trapped, reports ANI. He says the ITBP will be carrying out night operations as well and hopes to rescue all those trapped.
8.03 pm: The Armed Forces have established a control room at Joshimath and have deployed personnel, equipment and helicopters to provide assistance to the civil administration in dealing with the flash floods in Uttarakhand, reports The Hindu.
At Reni village, the Army has deployed two columns from Joshimath and two columns from Auli, while two more columns are on standby, an Army officer said. An engineering task force with two JCBs as well as a medical column with two ambulances have also been deployed. Two Cheetah helicopters from Army aviation have also been pressed in. A column consists of about 100 soldiers.
8 pm: A video showed those injured due to the glacier break getting painkiller shots after they were rescued.
7.15 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved compensation of Rs 2 lakh each from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the disaster, reports ANI. His office says Rs 50,000 would be given to those seriously injured in the incident.
7 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister TS Rawat says seven bodies have been recovered so far, according to PTI. He adds that at least 125 are missing after an avalanche triggered by glacier burst.
6.56 pm: The Uttarakhand chief minister thanks the media for not spreading rumours about the flash flood and the disaster.
6.55 pm: Rawat says experts will find the cause of the glacier disaster later as saving lives is more important, reports NDTV.
6.45 pm: The chief minister says Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him twice and assured all possible help from the Centre after the major disaster. He also says Anant Ambani, son of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, had also called to extend help to his government.
6.42 pm: At a press conference, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says that the government will give financial assistance of Rs 4 lakhs each to the kin of the deceased, reports ANI.
6.38 pm: A government statement says that the flash flood also affected the downstream hydro project of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited at Tapovan on the river Dhauliganga, which is a tributary of the river Alaknanda.
“There is no danger of downstream flooding and the rise in water level has been contained, as per the information given by the Central Water Commission,” says the government. “There is also no threat to the neighbouring villages. At the same time, the concerned agencies of the Centre and the State were asked to keep a strict vigil on the situation...”
6.36 pm: After a National Crisis Management Committee meet, a spokesperson says the glacial burst in Uttarakhand washed away Rishiganga small hydro project of 13.2 megawatt.
5.45 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani requests his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat to ensure immediate help to pilgrims stranded in the state.
“In a telephonic conversation with the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Vijay Rupani has requested for immediate help and relief and to ensure rescue of the pilgrims from Gujarat trapped in the natural calamity at Chamoli Tapovan in Uttarakhand. He also sought help in arranging treatment for the injured,” says a press release.
5.18 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav says the government’s priority should be on rescuing stranded people in the affected areas after a Himalayan glacier broke and swept away a hydroelectric dam.
“The priority of the government should be to rescue people who are stranded and immediately locate those who are missing,” he tweets. “We appeal to our people in Uttarakhand to come forward and extend all possible help to the affected people and those engaged in relief work.”
5.15 pm: Environmental experts also say big hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand should be stopped, reports Reuters.
“This disaster again calls for a serious scrutiny of the hydropower dams building spree in this eco-sensitive region,” says Ranjan Panda, a volunteer for the Combat Climate Change Network that works on water, environment and climate change problems. “The government should no longer ignore warnings from experts and stop building hydropower projects and extensive highway networks in this fragile ecosystem.”
5.12 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharti criticises the construction of a power project in the ecologically fragile Himalayas.
“When I was a minister I had requested that Himalaya is a very sensitive place, so power projects should not be built on Ganga and its main tributaries,” she tweets, referring to the main river that flows from the mountain.
5.05 pm: The India Meteorological Department says no adverse weather events are expected over Chamoli, Tapovan and Joshimath in Uttarakhand on February 7 and 8 after a Himalayan glacier broke and triggered an avalanche and massive flooding of the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers, reports PTI.
5.02 pm: At a rally in West Bengal ahead of the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he is constant touch with Uttarakhand chief minister and the home minister following a glacier burst in Chamoli district.
4.55 pm: Manish Khanduri, who had contested Lok Sabha elections on Congress ticket, shares a video showing no downflow of water at downstream Karnaprayag city in Chamoli district.
4.50 pm: The Indo-Tibetan Border Police has rescued all the 16 people who were trapped in the tunnel near Tapovan in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, reports ANI.
4.18 pm: Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar says that the flow of the river has turned normal near Srinagar, adding that it is no longer a threat to the people of Devprayag and those living in the lowlands.
4.13 pm: The Uttarakhand Police say people living along river banks are being evacuated. “As a precaution, the flow of the Bhagirathi River has been stopped,” the police say. “To stop the flow of the Alaknanda River, the GVK dam in Srinagar and the Virbhadra dam in Rishikesh have been emptied out.”
4.07 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath expresses sadness at the loss of lives because of the flash flood. “I am deeply saddened by the reports of loss of life due to the natural disaster in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand,” he tweets. “It is a request to Lord Rama that peace be upon the departed souls, give the power to the bereaved family to bear this sorrow and to provide immediate health benefits to the injured.”
3.59 pm: Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesperson says that three bodies have been recovered, adding that at least 150 labourers working at the Tapovan power project are missing, reports PTI.
3.57 pm: A Border Roads Organisation bridge near Malari ahead of the Joshimath area has been washed away by the floods, reports ANI. Director General of Border Roads Organisation Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhary has instructed officials to reinstate it at the earliest possible.
3.51 pm: Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says it is clear from the condition of water flow in the river at Karnaprayag, one of the confluences of river Alaknanda, that the possibility of flooding is very less.
3.47 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind says he is deeply worried about the glacier burst near Joshimath, Uttarakhand. “Praying for well being and safety of people,” he tweets. “[I] am confident that rescue and relief operations on ground are progressing well.”
3.43 pm: CM Rawat says medical teams have been rushed to the affected site and a 30-bed hospital has been kept ready at Joshimath for dealing with the emergency. He adds that hospitals in Srinagar, Rishikesh, Jollygrant and Dehradun are also on standby.
3.38 pm: Teams comprising 100 personnel from the Indian Army and 250 from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police are engaged in the rescue operations, says Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. He says that the army has pressed three helicopters into service and the local police and the state disaster relief forces are also at the site.
“600 personnel from the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police are on standby for dealing with any emerging situation,” adds Rawat. “All the rescue teams are doing their best to save lives of missing workers at NTPC (140 nos) & RishiGanga site (17 nos). My prayers are with every missing worker.”
3.36 pm: CM Rawat says those in need of help can contact the following emergency numbers: 1070, 1905 and 9557444486. “I thank state’s population in the affected regions for their cooperation and request everyone to maintain calm & not share unverified information on various platforms,” he tweets.
3.24 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says there is no additional water flows currently are being reported and there is no flood situation anywhere. “Water from the affected site has reached beyond Nandprayag and river was flowing 1 meter above normal levels,” he tweets. “No loss has been reported from villages along Alaknanda.”
3.18 pm: Piyoosh Rautela, executive director of the Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre, says the exact cause of the incident is being investigated. He says that glacier debris blocked the water from river Ganga, leading to the formation of a lake, which broke earlier in the day.
Rautela adds that missing people include 50 from Rishi Ganga hydro power’s construction site and 100 from Tapovan hydro power site.
3.15 pm: Uttar Pradesh government asks authorities in all districts on the banks of the Ganga river to be on a high alert and continuously monitor the water level, reports PTI.
3.12 pm: Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar says at least two bodies have been recovered, while some injured have been rescued by the state disaster response forces, reports PTI. Kumar says 50-100 personnel working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni area of Uttarakhand are missing and rescue operations have been launched to find them.
3.04 pm: A witness to the incident says a wall of dust, rock and water came down the river valley as an avalanche, reports Reuters. “It came very fast, there was no time to alert anyone,” says Sanjay Singh Rana, who lives on the upper reaches of Raini village. “I felt that even we would be swept away.”
2.22 pm: Officials tells PTI that more than 150 labourers working in the power project are missing.
2.15 pm: It is still not clear what led to the flash floods in Uttarakhand. The government is saying it is a result of a “glacier burst”, but questions remain to be answered whether it is a glacial lake outburst flood or if a glacier disintegrated, causing avalanche and massive flooding.
1.55 pm: The police in Chamoli say that the Rishiganga Power Project has been damaged due breach of a glacier in Tapovan area, reports ANI.
1.52 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Assam to for the state Assembly polls, says that he is constantly monitoring the situation in Uttarakhand after a glacial burst.
“Am constantly monitoring the unfortunate situation in Uttarakhand,” he says in a tweet. “India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there. Have been continuously speaking to senior authorities and getting updates on NDRF deployment, rescue work and relief operations.”
1.30 pm: The Chamoli district magistrate has instructed officials to evacuate people living in villages on the bank of Dhauliganga river, reports ANI.
1.22 pm: Reports coming in of a glacier breaking off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.