A view shows damage after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into a dam at Raini Chak Lata village in Chamoli district, northern state of Uttarakhand, India, February 7, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

A massive surge of water destroyed a dam in northern India after a Himalayan glacier broke apart, leaving approximately 200 people missing with 19 confirmed dead. The Indian national crisis management committee says the glacier broke apart and fell into the Rishiganga river, which raised the water level dramatically. 

Most of the people in the path of the flooding were working on one of the two hydroelectric projects taking place in the region. It remains unclear what caused the glacier to break apart this early in the year, with temperatures still below freezing and no rain. Technology professor Mohd Farooq Azam weighed in on the matter, stating, “It’s a very rare incident for a glacial burst to happen. Satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there’s a possibility that there may be a water pocket in the region.” 

While the exact cause of the flood surge is still under investigation, many experts pointed toward climate change as the probable cause. Climate change researcher Anjal Prakash said, “The scientist reported with medium confidence that in some regions snow avalanches involving wet snow have increased while the rain on snow floods have also increased at lower elevations in springs.” Prakash added that the data needed to provide a conclusive cause for the recent flood surge remains unknown, but argued that the incident looks very much like a “climate change event.”  

Local Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat rejected the notion that a climate-related disaster caused the flooding, arguing that it could have been an “abrupt sliding down” of massive amounts of snow that caused the surge. He also urged against an “anti-development narrative” in the wake of the tragedy. 

“According to the scientists, the area where the calamity struck is not prone to avalanches and apparently it was not caused by a glacier burst as initial reports suggested,” stated Rawat. “It was due to millions of metric tonnes of snow sliding down abruptly from a trigger point on the top of a naked hill.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Rescuers in India digging for 37 trapped in glacier flood – Associated Press – 2/8/2021
More than 2,000 members of the military, paramilitary groups and police have been taking part in search-and-rescue operations in the northern state of Uttarakhand after Sunday’s flood, which destroyed one dam, damaged another and washed homes downstream.

Chamoli Glacier Burst: Why did glacier break in cold winter month of Feb? – The Times of India – 2/8/2021
Himalayan glaciers have been retreating faster than anywhere else in the world. “Yet the state of glacier response (how much it retreats or advances) has not been studied extensively. So, we mapped the variationsof extent and dynamics of the glaciers in the upper Rishiganga catchment, Nanda Devi region and found most glaciers have been shrinking,” Metha said

200 missing and feared dead after glacier collapse in India – NBC News – 2/8/2021
The number of people missing and feared dead after a Himalayan glacier burst and unleashed a huge rush of water and debris that crashed into two dams in northern India jumped to more than 200 Monday. Initially, first responders in the state of Uttarakhand said some 150 were missing after the disaster Sunday. Nineteen are confirmed to have been killed.

Large-scale rescue operation underway after flooding from India glacier burst – CNN – 2/8/2021
Rescuers had reached all 13 villages by Monday afternoon and relief work is now underway in them, Kumar said. Meanwhile, rescue efforts are focused on clearing sludge and debris from the tunnel where the 35 workers are thought to be trapped. Rescuers managed to clear the mouth of the tunnel on Monday, according to a Twitter post from the Uttarakhand State Press Information Bureau.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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