Massive avalanche hits mountains around Kedarnath shrine; No damage to temple

Updated on Oct 01, 2022 02:37 PM IST

The Rudraprayag district adminsitration said no loss of life, property, or increase in the water level in the Saraswati River was reported and the yatra is underway, as usual

The avalanche occurred in the Kedar Peak area of Chorabari glacial lake region on Saturday morning. (Sourced)
The avalanche occurred in the Kedar Peak area of Chorabari glacial lake region on Saturday morning. (Sourced)

A massive avalanche occurred in the Kedar Peak area of Chorabari glacial lake region, around 6-7 kilometre away from Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag district on Saturday morning, officials said.

No loss of life, property, or increase in the water level in the Saraswati River, a tributary of Mandakini River that flows through the Kedarnath shrine, was reported and the yatra is underway, as usual, said the district administration.

“A powder snow avalanche was reported early morning around 6am on Saturday around six to seven kilometre away from Kedarnath Shrine in the Chorabari glacial lake region and no damage or rise in water level in the Saraswati River has been reported so far,” said Yogendra Singh, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Badrinath Kedarnath temple committee( BKTC).

An avalanche was reported in the same region on September 22 last month.

Singh said the volume of the fresh avalanche was higher than that of the one occurred in the same region last month.

Last month, an avalanche and ice break incident occurred in the Chorabari Glacier at a distance of about four to five km from the Kedarnath temple, bringing back the memories of the 2013 disaster among the temple priests and instilling fear among the residents.

“The fresh avalanche has instilled fear among the residents and temple priests as the memories of the Kedarnath disaster in 2013 are still afresh,” said Anand, a temple priest of the Kedarnath shrine. The safety wall being constructed around Kedarnath should be strengthened further to avoid a repeat of the 2013 disaster, he added.

The priests have blamed it on the sound of the chopper due to their regular sorties bringing in the devotees along with the machines used for the reconstruction of the area as the main cause of the frequent avalanches being witnessed in the area.

“Due to the tremor triggered by the loud sound of the choppers and the machines being used for reconstructing the shrine area that was devastated due to Kedarnath natural calamity, the fragile glacial ecosystem is disturbed, impacting the glacier and resulting in avalanches in the region,” said Vinod Shukla, a temple priest from Kedarnath shrine.

Ajendar Ajay, president BKTC said, “ The avalanche occurred around seven kilometre away from the helipad and the machines deployed for the reconstruction work, hence the probability of the avalanche due to the vibration of sound is minimal.”

No damage to the temple has occurred and the shrine area is completely safe, he said.

Dr Kalachand Sain, director of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology said, “The avalanche in the glacial Kedarnath region is not unusual and the fresh snowfall in the region is a good sign for the glacier as it mitigates the glacial melting process.”

However, they are planning to send a team of scientists to assess the situation in detail and study the phenomenon further, he said.

NS Rajwar, district disaster management officer, Rudraprayag said, “The avalanche that hit Kedar Peak in the Chorabari lake region ended in the Saraswati River gorge and no increase in the water level has been reported that could be risky to the temple or the residents downstream,”

He added that they are keeping a close watch on the region and state disaster response force (SDRF), national disaster response force (NDRF), police and revenue team are monitoring the situation, he added.

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