Rishiganga disaster may have involved ice, rock avalanche: Met organisation

Published on Feb 10, 2021 10:10 AM IST

The flash flood in Uttarakhand’s Rishiganga valley was not the first such avalanche from these slopes. Experts have identified a similar but much smaller event in 2016

Rescue operations continue at Tapovan tunnel following Sunday's glacier burst in Joshimath, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, on February 9. (PTI)
Rescue operations continue at Tapovan tunnel following Sunday's glacier burst in Joshimath, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, on February 9. (PTI)
ByJayashree Nandi

The World Meteorological Organisation on Tuesday said the exact cause of the flash flood in Uttarakhand’s Rishiganga Valley has not been ascertained but early assessment indicates the event involved a large avalanche of ice and rock. This was not the first such avalanche from these slopes. Experts have identified a similar but much smaller event in 2016.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has also reported higher temperatures at the approximate time of the flash floods than in the previous four days, with higher mean temperature intrusions to the north of the region. It monitored and reported melt in the region with melt volumes for 96 hours.

An international group of scientists is working with Indian scientists and the National Disaster Management Authority to assess all available sources of information, including satellite imagery, for an understanding of the flash floods and lessons learned.

Also Read | Uttarakhand glacier burst: Heavy damage to two hydel projects at the epicentre

“The visuals are frightening and heartbreaking. This is once again a grave reminder about how our shared mountain region is fragile and vulnerable to a multitude of geological and natural processes. And it is a grave reminder that vulnerabilities are exacerbated by climate change,” wrote Pema Gyamtsho, the director-general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, in a WMO statement.

The WMO said the effects of climate change together with the development of mountain regions require a more sustained, timely, and accurate understanding of changes and impacts on the mountain environments, to support decisions on the development of warning systems and adaptation.

IMD director general M Mohapatra said they have to analyse their data properly before making a comment.

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