20 Dead In Uttarakhand Glacier Disaster, Search For 200 People: 10 Points

Uttarakhand Glacier Disaster: Apart from the terrain and the low temperature, mud and debris in a tunnel is posing a major challenge for the rescuers.

Uttarakhand Disaster: The NDRF, state authorities, Army and IAF are involved in the rescue efforts.

New Delhi: More than 200 people remain missing a day after flash floods in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district. So far, 20 bodies have been recovered. The flash floods were caused by a glacier burst in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. The resulting avalanche and deluge in the in the Alaknanda river system washed away a hydroelectric station and five bridges. Another hydroelectric station has been severely damaged. Multi-agency rescue work is on in the state as the authorities evacuated thousands of people from the affected areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda have discussed relief efforts and future course of action with MPs from the state.

Here are the 10 latest developments on the Uttarakhand glacier disaster:

  1. 170 people - 148 employed at the NTPC plant and 22 at Rishiganga - are missing. Thirty others are trapped in a tunnel, and rescue teams are working to save them. Apart from the terrain and the low temperature, mud and debris in the tunnel is posing a major challenge for the rescuers. Twelve people trapped in an under-construction tunnel were rescued yesterday.

  2. National and state disaster response teams as well as teams from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have been deployed in the area. The army has sent six columns and the Navy seven diving teams.

  3. An early survey of the damage caused to the Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower plant shows the dam has been "completely washed off", Indian Air Force sources have said. The dam is located at the confluence of Dhauliganga and Rishiganga rivers, around 280 km east of state capital Dehradun.

  4. Two bridges at the entrance of Malari valley and near Tapovan have been washed away as well. The bridges connected narrow roads in the hills with the 13 villages. Officials said arrangements are being made to airdrop food packets to the villages.

  5. Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, "We have made all arrangements needed for the rescue and relief operations along with providing healthcare facilities to the affected people. Most importantly, we are working on re-establishing the connectivity to the affected villages".

  6. A team from defence research organization DRDO is already "studying the cause of the tragedy and we have also sought the help of Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and experts for the same," said Mr Rawat.

  7. Scientists from the Geological Survey of India have said prima facie, the flash floods were caused by glacial calving at the highest altitude in Rishiganga and Dhauliganga area. Experts have pointed out that the hundreds of power projects and widening of roads is playing havoc with the ecologically fragile region which is also earthquake-prone.

  8. Magsaysay awardee Chandi Prasad Bhatt, who was a Chipko movement leader, said projects like the Rishi Ganga hydel project, should not have been given environmental clearance. In 2010, he had written to the then environment minister warning against the adverse effects of the project. "The mindless rampaging on the Himalayas in the name of development must stop," he was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

  9. The glacier disaster is a grim reminder of the flash floods in Uttarakhand;s Kedarnath area in 2013, which killed 6,000 people and led to calls for a review of development projects in the state, particularly in isolated areas like those around the Rishi Ganga dam.

  10. The increased pace of development in the region has also heightened fears about fallout from deforestation and other environmental troubles.

The Uttarakhand government has made the following helplines for the Disaster Operations Center available to those stuck in affected areas or in need of any help: 1070 or 9557444486.