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“Deadly Glacial Lake Burst in India Leaves Scores Missing and Dead

A lake that had been frozen for decades suddenly gave way near Joshimath in northern India’s North Chamoli district, sweeping away two hydroelectric power projects, an adjoining bridge, and resulting in more than 100 people missing and fourteen dead. This tragedy occurred on Sunday, February 7, around 10:45am, when an accumulation of ice, rock, and other debris known as a glacial lake burst, releasing more than 150,000 cubic meters of water. According to Virbhadra Singh, a former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, more than 50 worked underground and they are unaccounted for. The Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), district administration and local village bodies have come together to respond to the disaster and conduct rescue and relief operations. The Indian Army’s Garhwal Unit is using helicopters for search and rescue operations. More than 1,000 rescuers are on the ground, with nearly thirty divers being dispatched to the site. In addition, more than 600 ITBP personnel are also aiding in the relief and rescue operations. The cause of this disaster is being attributed to various factors; rising temperatures due to climate change, deforestation, and disruption of waterways due to hydroelectric development among them. Local villagers reported hearing a loud noise, similar to that of thunder, Prior to the eruption, indicating a potential build up of energy. The Indian state government has ordered a committee to be convened to investigate the cause of this tragedy. The loss of life in this tragedy is a tragedy, and the search and rescue efforts must continue in order to bring back those that are missing to their families. Additionally, it is important that the cause of the disaster is both understood and addressed, in order to prevent similar events in the future.