Death toll in avalanche in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli rises to 11


Express News Service

DEHRADUN: One more body was recovered from avalanche site in Malari-Sumna of Niti Valley in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand on Sunday, taking the total body count to 11.

The district administration officials told that post-mortem of those found is being conducted and compensation will be provided to their families and dependents. 

Swati Bhadauria, district magistrate of Chamoli district said, “The reach operation is on and total 11 bodies have been recovered till now. Post-mortem is being conducted of the deceased and their families will be compensated as per law.”

Rescue operations are still on by the Indian Army, National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force to locate and find the missing. 

Speculations are still on as to what caused the avalanche. However, experts said that there are lesser chances of a glacier break.

Kalachand Sain, director of Wadia Institute Of Himalayan Glaciology, Dehradun said, “Anything can be said conclusively only after thorough investigation. It seems unlikely that the avalanche occurred due to breaking of the glacier.”

A scientist from the Uttarakhand Disaster Management Department told TNIE on the condition of anonymity, “It is important to note that landslide or avalanche proneness of a place is relatively easy to decipher as these often take place repeatedly at an identified vulnerable location and indications of previous avalanche or landslide activity can easily be observed in the form of chutes, buried exotic boulders and scars. It is therefore necessary that even temporary establishments housing humans for various purposes be set up after seeking geologist’s advice and reviewing previous hazard history of the area. This would help in averting loss of human lives.”

Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him on phone.

The CM tweeted, “Honorable Prime Minister spoke to me on phone about Sumna village glacier break. He expressed his concern and conveyed his condolences for those who lost their lives.”

The incident took place at around 4pm around 4 km ahead of Sumna in the Girthiganga valley on Joshimath-Malari-Girthi Dobla-Sumna-Rimkhim road. 

This is a strategic road leading to the Sino-Indian border. The avalanche overrun two labour camps of the Border Roads Organization. 

It is important to note that this is not the sole incident wherein camps established on the road side have been devastated by landslide, avalanche and floods. 

In the past the region has witnessed many similar incidences and in April 2003 similar incidence around Sunna took toll of 11 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.

Interestingly, both the incidences (February 7 and April 23, 2021) were accompanied by abnormal weather phenomenon by the gap of just 75 days.

The previous incident on February 7, 2021 was accompanied by sharp rise of temperature with Tapovan and Auli recording one day rise in maximum temperature by 5.4 and 9.6’ C respectively while the present one was accompanied by abnormally heavy snowfall in April. 

“No one really knows if these incidences are attributed to climate change or represent local weather variability. Be whatever, we have to be prepared for such incidences and do our level best to save lives,” added the scientist. 

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