A glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on Sunday (February 7), which triggered a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and caused large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalaya.
The glacier burst sent several districts in a frenzy, as states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand issued a high-alert in regions along the banks of the Ganges river. Politicos across party lines, dignitaries and celebrities, along with the general netizens have been sending out prayers for the safety of people of Uttarakhand, as around 50-100 labourers working at the Rishi Ganga power project are still projected to be missing.
Here's all you need to know about the incident and the current updates received so far:
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. Three bodies were recovered, according to the officials.
"More than 100 labourers working at barrage and 50 plus working at a tunnel are feared dead or missing as per the site in-charge of Tapovan and the local administration. Three bodies have been recovered till now," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said in Delhi.
Homes were swept away as the waters rushed down the mountainside in a raging torrent.
An alert was sounded due to fears of damage to human settlements downstream and many villages have been evacuated.
The spokesperson added that due to the collapse of at least three bridges in Reni village, including one of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), connectivity with some of their border posts has been "totally restricted".
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police guards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
He said over 250 personnel of the border force are involved in the rescue work at present.
According to the latest updates, the ITBP has rescued all 16 labourers who were trapped inside the tunnel at Tapovan after the teams cleared the debris to rescue them.
UP on red alert
The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday asked authorities in all districts on the banks of river Ganga to be on high alert and continuously monitor the water level after
In the disaster alert issued on Sunday to all district magistrates in UP, the Relief Commissioner said, "Report of breaking of a part of Nandadevi Glacier in Uttarakhand has been received. The districts on the Ganga river (banks) need to be on a high alert and the monitoring of water level needs to be done 24×7. If required, the people need to be evacuated."
The NDRF, SDRF and PAC Flood Company have been given instructions to be on the highest alert, the statement added.
In a tweet in Hindi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, "To tackle the natural disaster in Uttarakhand, the Uttar Pradesh government will extend all possible help."
In another tweet, Adityanath said, "Feel saddened by the disaster which took place after a glacier broke, and many people missing. I pray to Lord Ram to give peace to the souls who have passed away, strength to the aggrieved family members to bear the loss and speedy recovery to the injured."
Later in a statement, Adityanath said in case of rise in the water level, people residing on the banks of river Ganga should be shifted elsewhere if needed.
The chief minister also appealed to the people to not believe in any rumours nor spread them.
"People should exercise caution, and not venture towards the banks of rivers. In case of any adverse circumstances, co-operate with the district administration. The UP government is taking all necessary steps," he said.
PM Modi, President Kovind express concerns
President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday expressed concerns over the glacier burst, while also expressing confidence that rescue and relief operations on the ground are progressing well.
"Deeply worried about the glacier burst near Joshimath, Uttarakhand, that caused destruction in the region. Praying for well being and safety of people. I am confident that rescue and relief operations on the ground are progressing well," President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is at Haldia in West Bengal for a government programme, also affirmed that the rescue operations are underway.
The Prime Minister is personally monitoring the flood situation in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district in which as many as 150 people feared to be dead.
"Am constantly monitoring the unfortunate situation in Uttarakhand. India stands with Uttarakhand & nation prays for everyone's safety there. Have been continuously speaking to senior authorities & getting updates on NDRF deployment, rescue work and relief operations," PM Modi tweeted on Sunday.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is monitoring the situation after the water level in the Dhauliganga river increased suddenly following an avalanche near a power project at Raini village in the Tapovan area of Chamoli district on Sunday, said Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat over the Chamoli flood situation and assured all possible help to the state.
"Regarding the natural disaster in Uttarakhand, I have spoken to CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, DGs of ITBP and NDRF. All officers concerned are working on a war footing to rescue people. NDRF teams have left for rescue operations. Every possible help will be provided to Devbhoomi," Shah said.