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Chamoli glacier burst: At least 8 dead, Indian Army rescues 384 BRO workers

Chamoli glacier burst: The area is “experiencing heavy rains and snow for the last 5 days”, an Army statement read.

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: April 24, 2021 3:51:59 pm
uttarakhand glacier burst, uttarakhand glacier breaks, Niti Valley, Niti Valley glacier, uttarakhand flood, tirath singh rawat, uttarakhand alertSources mentioned that the operations continued to find people in batches. (File)

At least eight people died after a glacier broke off in the Sumna area of Niti Valley near Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Friday. The Indian Army on Saturday recovered the bodies and managed to rescue 384 others who were working at a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) camp in the area till late last evening.

Bad weather conditions had restricted rescue operations last night. Sources said operations commenced this morning, and the Army is trying to locate more people in batches.

In a statement, the Army said that at around 4 pm on April 23, “an avalanche hit a location about 4 km ahead of Sumna on Sumna- Rimkhim road in Uttarakhand”, which is on the “Joshimath-Malari-Girthidobla-Sumna-Rimkhim axis”.

“A BRO detachment and two labour camps exist nearby for road construction work along this axis. An Army camp is located 3 Km from Sumna (approximately 1 km short of  BRO Sumna Det).”

The area is “experiencing heavy rains and snow for the last 5 days”, the statement read.

“Rescue operations were launched by the Indian Army immediately. As many as 384 labourers have been safely rescued and are now at the Army camp. Rescue operations to locate other labourers at both camps are continuing. Eight bodies have been recovered so far.”

The Army added that the road access is cut off at four to five location due to multiple landslides, and Border Roads Task Force teams from Joshimath “are working to clear slides en route from Bhapkund to Sumna since last evening” and it is “expected to take another 6 to 8 hours to clear this complete axis”.

An official mentioned that a BRO camp “came under avalanche conditions during heavy snowfall in Sumna area of Joshimath Sector in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand” on Friday. As the rescue operations began, blizzard conditions kept rescue operations at bay till late evening”.

The official also said that in a night rescue operation “undertaken by the Army, another 150 GREF persons stuck in the BRO Camp were rescued and brought to safety”. General Reserve Engineer Force works under BRO.

The rescue work was going on till late Friday night “to locate people still stuck under snow or stranded at worksites since late evening”.

The official mentioned that people were found and rescued in batches. After the initial 55 and then 149, four more batches of 37, 22, 9 and 19 were saved and brought to safety, taking the total count to 291 during the night.

However, as the weather made it difficult for the rescue work to be carried on, the operation had to be halted. The official said that the weather had “turned pretty hostile” during the night, and already more than the estimated number of people, which was around 280, had been rescued. However, to “mop up the area” for any others, the Army personnel were to “start afresh at first light”.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had tweeted about the incident on Friday evening. “There were reports of a glacier breaking off in Sumna, Neeti Valley. “I have released an alert in this regard. I am in constant touch with the district administration and BRO.”

“The district administration has been instructed to get complete information about the case. For NTPC and other projects, orders have been given to stop work at night so that no untoward incident occurs,” he had said in another tweet.

Rawat had also stated that Union Home Minister Amit Shah was informed about the incident, who took note of it, and “assured full help to Uttarakhand and has instructed the ITBP to be vigilant”.

On Saturday morning, Rawat conducted an aerial tour of the site.

The incident comes two months after flash floods in Chamoli district in February left dozens dead.

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