Chamoli floods: At 14,000 feet, navy-IAF joint op to measure glacial lake depth
The Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) sent divers to measure the depth of a glacial lake formed in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, the site of flash floods after which more than 60 people were killed earlier this month, officials said on Sunday. The navy also shared a video of the operation, which, it said, was carried out on Saturday.
“In a joint Indian Navy-IAF operation on 20 Feb, naval divers were winched by IAF’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) at a height of 14,000 feet to measure the depth of the glacial lake formed 5 km upstream of Tapovan, Uttarakhand,” the navy said in a statement. “The Naval divers took the task of recording the depth of the glacial lake using a handheld echo sounder. The scientists will use this data to determine the pressure on the mud of the wall of the dam,” the force added.
The navy said that with no road access and time criticality, its divers were quickly mobilised onboard the IAF’s ALH.
Several workers were trapped inside a tunnel of NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project as flash floods struck Chamoli district on February 7. The glacial lake was formed above the disaster-struck Raini village in Rishi Ganga river’s catchment area. The Rishi Ganga hydel project was completely washed away and the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project suffered extensive damage.
The death toll in the tragedy, which was triggered by the overflow of the glacier lake, reached 67 on Sunday after five more bodies were recovered, according to officials. “The rescue workers found five more bodies till Sunday morning taking the death toll to 67. Out of the total bodies recovered, 34 have been identified while 33 are yet to be identified,” Swati Bhadauria, district magistrate of Chamoli, said.
A multi-agency rescue operation was launched in the wake of the disaster. Besides the three wings of the armed forces, agencies like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and others are involved in operations to rescue and search people.