Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Sunday announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for the family of those killed after a glacier break at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district led to an avalanche and massive floods. It was not immediately clear what had set off the avalanche, but Rawat said a team of scientific experts would investigate the exact cause behind the disaster.
An extra Rs 2 lakh compensation will be given from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, his office said. For those seriously injured in the incident, Rs 50,000 will be given as aid.
Addressing a press conference, the chief minister said 125 people were missing but the number could rise. So far, the bodies of seven people had been recovered.
Rawat said that the incident might have happened at around 9 to 9.30 am, adding that the water level is normal now.
“All the work related to rail were emptied,” he said. “All the areas around the Ganga and Alaknanda [rivers] were put on high alert. We were also talking to the Uttar Pradesh government to maintain vigil in areas near the Ganga river.”
He also said that the floods had badly impacted the livestock in the area and that as many as 180 goats were feared to have been swept away.
The destruction of one motorable and four smaller pools has led to the cutting off of contact through road on the right side of the Rishiganga area, Rawat said. The chief minister said Modi called him twice and assured him of all possible help. The chief ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat and Anant Ambani, son of industrialist Mukesh Ambani also extended help to his government.
The Uttarakhand chief minister, meanwhile, has tweeted out helpline numbers. “If you are stranded in the affected area, if you need any kind of help, please contact Disaster Operations Center number 1070 or 9557444486,” he said. “Please do not circulate old videos and rumours at this time.”
Rishiganga hydropower project washed away in flood: NCMC
The National Crisis Management Committee said that a 13.2 megawatt hydropower project in the Rishiganga river was washed away in the glacier burst. The committee also said that there was no danger of floods in the downstream areas as the water level has been contained.
The committee, chaired by Union Chief Secretary Rajib Gauba, was informed that Indo Tibetan Border Police rescued 12 people trapped inside a tunnel, while effort is on to rescue others trapped in another tunnel.
“2 teams of NDRF [National Disaster Relief Force] are enroute and 3 additional teams have been flown in from Hindon [air base] which will reach the spot later in the night,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. “More than 200 ITBP [Indo Tibetan Border Police] personnel are on the spot, and one column and Engineering Task Force of Army, with all rescue equipment have been deployed. Navy divers are being flown in and aircraft/ helicopters of the Indian Air Force are on standby.”
The statement said that there was no threat to the neighbouring villages. Central and state agencies have been asked to maintain a strict vigil and a team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which monitors avalanches, was being flown in for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The statement also cited India Meteorological Department, saying that there is no threat of rainfall in the area for the next two days.