Local officials couldn’t confirm if the disaster was caused by an avalanche or a glacier breach.
Local officials couldn’t confirm if the disaster was caused by an avalanche or a glacier breach.

At least 10 killed in avalanche in U’khand’s Chamoli district

The location of the snow avalanche near the Indo-China border is mainly uninhabited but Border Road Organisation personnel working there have been affected.
By Jayashree Nandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 25, 2021 12:17 AM IST

An avalanche in the Sumna area of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand killed at least 10 people and injured several on Friday evening, according to the state government officials.

The location of the snow avalanche near the Indo-China border is mainly uninhabited but Border Road Organisation personnel working there have been affected. Around 384 persons have been rescued from the spot. This part of Uttarakhand has been recording heavy snowfall for the past 4 to 5 days, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

“An active western disturbance was passing over the region and it brought both rainfall and heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of the western Himalayas including Uttarakhand. We do not track avalanches or landslides, so information on how the disaster occurred is not there with us,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.

Local officials couldn’t confirm if the disaster was caused by an avalanche or a glacier breach.

“The scientists can confirm this. From what we have understood, it’s a glacier breach and landslide,” said Swati Bhadouriya, district magistrate, Chamoli.

“The number of dead may increase. There were around 450 workers working there, out of that 384 have been rescued and 7 have been airlifted and hospitalised. Rescue operations are underway but roads are blocked from Malari onwards due to heavy snowfall for the past few days. Many rescue teams are not able to reach the location,” said RS Negi, information officer, Chamoli.

The avalanche occurred less than 100km from Raini village which was affected by a glacier breach on February 7. A glacier breach triggered an avalanche and deadly floods in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on February 7, which killed at least 72 people and destroyed two hydroelectric projects.

The Rishi Ganga Hydropower Project (13.2 MW) near Raini village was the first to be hit by the debris after the rockslide. The unfinished Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Project (520 MW), 8km downstream from Rishi Ganga Hydropower Project, was the second hydropower plant hit by the flood where most of the deaths occurred.

Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has underlined the link between the February 7 glacier breach disaster in Uttarakhand’s Rishi Ganga river with infrastructure development, particularly the construction of hydropower projects in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

A senior official of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said their team hasn’t managed to reach the location because of a blocked road. The team will assess the exact reasons behind the disaster.

The western disturbance as a cyclonic circulation which is lying over north-eastern parts of Ladakh and its neighbourhood has started moving away north-eastwards. Under its influence, isolated rainfall/snowfall is very likely over Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on Saturday. A fresh feeble western disturbance likely to affect Western Himalayan region from April 27 causing isolated rainfall/snowfall with thunderstorms and gusty winds over Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan, Muzaffarabad, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand during April 27 to 30.

A north-south trough (area of low pressure) is running from Marathwada to south coastal Tamil Nadu across north interior Karnataka, Telangana and Rayalaseema. Under its influence, scattered to fairly widespread rainfall/thunderstorm activity is very likely over Kerala and Mahe and isolated scattered rainfall/thunderstorm over remaining parts of south Peninsular India during next 4-5 days. Strong surface winds (speed reaching 20-30 kmph) are likely over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and north Rajasthan on April 25 and 26.

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