26 bodies retrieved during rescue operation at Uttarakhand dam disaster

A view of the damaged Dhauliganga hydropower project at Reni village in Chamoli district after a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, Sunday, Feb.7, 2021. (AP Photo)

26 bodies have been recovered from the scene of a dam burst in Uttarakhand region of northern India.  However, teams are still racing to save 35 people trapped in a tunnel nearby.

Rescue efforts continued overnight with operations aimed at clearing the debris and slushing the tunnel, approximately 120 metres of the tunnel entry has been cleared.

The current Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah said on Tuesday that Uttarakhand is out of danger and the water level is decreasing.  He added that 20 people have died, 6 people were injured. It has been reported that 120 people are missing but some officials suspect that number could be as high as 197.

It is believed that a large piece of a Himilayan glacier, from the Nanda Devi group of glaciers, fell into a river, triggering a landslide which then led to the flooding.

Glaciologists are trying to identify the specific glacier that broke away. They say the area has experienced its highest temperatures in nearly sixty years.

They also conclude the high temperatures led to pockets of meltwater within the glacier, thus accelerating the breakup and adding to the volume of water in the lake. When the lake collapsed, the flash flood brought mud and boulders which crashed into the dam.

Building activity for dams and dredging riverbeds for sand — for use in the construction industry — are other factors that may have played a role in the accident.


Story compiled with assistance from wire reports

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