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article imageGlacier breaks off in India causing massive flooding and death

By Karen Graham     Feb 7, 2021 in World
At least 200 people are missing and feared dead in northern India after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off, sending a massive torrent of water and debris into two dams, shattering one. Search and rescue is ongoing.
The breakoff of the Himalayan mountain glacier occurred near Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday morning. A video shared by officials shows a wall of water surging into one of two dams and breaking it into pieces with little resistance before continuing to roar downstream.
The Rishiganga hydropower plant was destroyed, while the Dhauliganga hydropower was damaged, said Vivek Pandey, a spokesman for paramilitary Indo Tibetan Border Police. Both power plants are on the Alaknanda River which eventually flows into the Ganges River.
According to the Associated Press, Pandey said at least 16 workers were trapped near a tunnel at the Dhauliganga project. Another 140 workers at the two plants are still missing and feared dead. At least 8-10 bodies have been recovered from the rivers so far.
The controversy around the Rishiganga power project
The Financial Express is reporting that the massive disaster experienced in the Chamoli Uttarakhand region has been feared ever since the Rishiganga power project began.
In 2019, The private company behind the Rishiganga power project was taken to court by concerned citizens in the region who alleged the company was using unfair and environmentally hazardous practices in the project.
A study published in 2019 - spanning 40 years of satellite observations across India, China, Nepal, and Bhutan, indicated that climate change is eating the Himalayas' glaciers. Researchers analyzed satellite images of some 650 glaciers spanning 2,000 kilometers from west to east. Many of the images came from declassified photographic images taken by the US spy satellites.
The study shows that "even glaciers in the highest mountains of the world are responding to global air temperature increases driven by the combustion of fossil fuels," said Joseph Shea, a glacial geographer at the University of Northern British Columbia in Canada, who was not involved in the study.
The Uttar Pradesh government has asked officials of all districts on the banks of the Ganga river to be on a high alert.
More about Nanda Devi glacier, northern india, Flooding, power project, Climate
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