Expert team to assess Uttarakhand glacial burst using satellite images: Official

Published on Feb 08, 2021 02:04 PM IST

The rescue operations by the ITBP, the Indian Army, the SDRF and the NDRF are underway in the affected areas of Uttarakhand's Chamoli.

Rescue operations underway near Tapovan Tunnel, a day after a glacier broke off in Joshimath causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Monday. (PTI Photo )
Rescue operations underway near Tapovan Tunnel, a day after a glacier broke off in Joshimath causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Monday. (PTI Photo )
By | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Geological Survey of India on Monday said that it was soon to predict the cause of the glacial burst in Uttarakhand that led to flash floods in the state’s Chamoli district. An official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI that post the devastation, another committee will be constituted to assess the incident, adding, prima facie, “it's glacial calving at highest altitude in Rishiganga and Dhauliganga area and upper reaches.”

Follow latest updates on Uttarakhand flood here

The official said one of the Geological Survey of India’s officers was already in Dehradun. “We're also planning to constitute a team of experts who will visit the site and undertake a physical recce and use the data that is available through satellite imageries. We'll do an assessment,” he told ANI.

A former glaciologist, at Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, DP Dobhal told HT that it was difficult to say exactly what happened. “Locals have told me that water and debris were flowing at great speed for about 15 to 20 minutes this morning and then the flow reduced gradually. This indicates a lake outburst. It’s possible that water and debris accumulated in a lake in the glacial region of Rishi Ganga valley breached due to an avalanche.”

He also pointed to the possibility of an avalanche that may have happened earlier, like the day before or very early Sunday morning. “The water filled up in the lake and breached. It may be very similar to what happened in 2013 with the Chorabari lake during the Kedarnath disaster. Only difference is that this time it’s in winter and that was during monsoons,” said Dobhal.

Prof Anil Kulkarni of Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, also suspected that the flooding may be linked to a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF). “This is a classic case of climate change impact on the glacier. We have again and again highlighted that such disasters will become exceedingly common due to climate change as more and more glaciers retreat,” he explained.

The joint rescue operations by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Indian Army, the National Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) forces are underway in the affected areas. Ten bodies have so far been recovered in Chamoli district following the glacier burst that damaged two dams, Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga. Over 150 people are still feared missing, said officials.

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