Uttarakhand: Scores missing after India glacier bursts dam

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Hundreds of troops and paramilitaries have been sent to the region

At least seven people are dead and 170 missing after a piece of a Himalayan glacier fell into a river and triggered a huge flood in northern India.

The floodwaters burst open a dam and a deluge of water poured through a valley in the state of Uttarakhand.

Most of the missing are believed to be workers from two hydro power plants in the area.

Hundreds of troops, paramilitaries and military helicopters have been sent to the region to help with rescue efforts.

Experts are investigating the incident though it is not yet clear what might have caused the glacial burst.

In a tweet on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was keeping a close watch on the situation in Uttarakhand.

“Have been continuously speaking to authorities and getting updates on… deployment, rescue work and relief operations,” he said in a tweet.

“India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there.”

Leaders from across the world have also sent their condolences to families of the victims.

“My thoughts are with the people of India and rescue workers in Uttarakhand as they respond to devastating flooding from the glacier collapse,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet.

“The UK stands in solidarity with India and is ready to offer any support needed.”

Destruction in its wake

Uttarakhand police said an avalanche struck at about 11:00 local time (05:30 GMT) on Sunday, destroying a dam known as the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project.

Police said the impact catapulted water along the Dhauli Ganga river, damaging another power project downstream in the Tapovan area.

One witness compared the flash flood to “a scene from a Bollywood film”.

Video showed the floodwater barrelling through the area, leaving destruction in its wake.

Emergency workers had earlier evacuated dozens of villages, but authorities later said the main flood danger had passed.

Emergency crew have managed to rescue 16 workers who had been trapped inside a tunnel that had been filled with debris.

Indian media said earlier that around 30 others were trapped in a second tunnel, with emergency crews prepared to work through the night to rescue them.

Uttarakhand, in the western Himalayas, is prone to flash floods and landslides.

Some 6,000 people are believed to have been killed in floods in June 2013 which were triggered by the heaviest monsoon rains in decades. (BBC)

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