Uttarakhand glacier burst: 150 workers trapped inside tunnel feared dead; 5 bodies recovered

A part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, leading to a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and causing large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalaya.

Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said while quoting the project-in charge.

Five bodies were recovered. The power project was swept away completely, added state Director General of Police Ashok Kumar while describing the situation as under control.

Homes along the way were also swept away as the waters rushed down the mountainsides in a raging torrent. There were fears of damage in human settlements downstream, including in heavily populated areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Centre is providing all possible help. “Uttarakhand is facing a disaster. I am in touch with State CM Trivendra Rawat ji, Union Home Minister and NDRF officers. The rescue operations are underway,” he said.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi expresses concerns over the flood situation. “Concerned at the disturbing news of ‘glacier break’, flooding and destruction in Uttarakhand, and the resultant projection of danger in the downstream catchment of the River Ganga. I pray for the safety of all and request Congress workers and volunteers to help the people and the authorities in their relief and rescue efforts. The Indian National Congress stands with the people of Uttarakhand in this hour of tragedy and crisis,” she said in a statement.

Many villages were evacuated and people taken to safer areas. Connectivity with some border posts was “totally restricted” due to a bridge collapsing near Reni village, an ITBP spokesperson said.