Uttarakhand flood wreaks death, damage

CLOSE TO 150 people were reported missing with seven bodies recovered, and two hydro power projects and a key bridge severely damaged, by a flood likely set off by a glacial breach that surged through the Rishiganga river in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district Sunday morning, officials said. Among those missing are labourers at the project sites, over 30 staff members and two police personnel, they said.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said over 35 people were trapped in a tunnel blocked by debris at an NTPC project that is under construction in the Tapovan area, five km downstream of Rishiganga.

A joint team of ITBP and the Army are engaged in rescue at the tunnel, sources said. ITBP personnel rescued 12 labourers from another tunnel near Tapovan.

Rawat said that a motorable bridge and four other small bridges were damaged, cutting access by road to over 11 villages in the area. Helicopters of the Army, IAF and private operators have been engaged to ensure supplies to these villages, he said.

According to the Chief Minister, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to him about the incident. The Chief Ministers of UP, Gujarat and Bihar have assured help, Rawat said.

Local officials cited preliminary reports to attribute the floods to a “glacier break” near Joshimath in the district. But scientists are ascertaining the possibility of a breach in a glacial lake — a phenomenon known as glacial…

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