At least 18 people were killed and 200 missing after a segment from a Himalayan glacier fell into the Dhauli Ganga river in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand yesterday.
A portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off at around 11am, local time, on Sunday morning. The fall caused a wave that cracked the barrier of the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project and sent a deluge of water pouring down the narrow valley, washing away homes and bridges.
The flood, which carried debris from Rishiganga, damaged a series of downstream hydroelectric projects, including the 520MW Tapovan, the 444MW Pipal Koti and the 400MW Vishnuprayag.
Most of the missing people were thought to be working at these power plants.
Hundreds of personnel from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and National Disaster Response Force have been sent to the region to help with rescue efforts. Ration kits are being provided by the Uttarakhand government to those displaced.
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, tweeted: "Am constantly monitoring the unfortunate situation in Uttarakhand. India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there.
"Have been continuously speaking to senior authorities and getting updates on NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) deployment, rescue work and relief operations."
The Chamoli event comes nine years after the Kedarnath flash flood of 2013, India’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. According to figures provided by the government of Uttarakhand, more than 5,700 people were presumed dead in that disaster.
Image: Rescue workers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police digging on Sunday, 7 February to find the entrance of a tunnel near Tapovan, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, where workers were trapped after the flood (Indo-Tibetan Border Police via Facebook)