Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas: Death Toll Climbs To 74 And 101 Missing

Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas: Death Toll Climbs To 74 And 101 Missing

  • Recent flash floods in the Indian Himalayas have claimed 74 lives and left 101 people missing, wreaking havoc in the northeastern state of Sikkim. Extreme rainfall and a glacial lake outburst triggered this devastating natural disaster.
  • Lhonak Lake, a rapidly growing glacial lake, played a pivotal role in the catastrophe. Scientists have long warned of the risk associated with glacial lake outbursts in the region, emphasizing the heightened vulnerability due to climate change.

Oct.10 : Tragedy struck as flash floods, triggered by a glacial lake bursting its banks in the Indian Himalayas, have left a trail of devastation. The death toll has risen to 74, and the situation remains grim with 101 people still missing in the aftermath of this calamity, according to provincial officials.

The northeastern state of Sikkim endured days of relentless rainfall, leading to torrents of water surging down narrow river valleys from Lohnak Lake, situated in the northern part of the state. This deluge damaged a dam and wreaked havoc in villages and Rangpo town, approximately 50 km (30 miles) south of the state capital, Gangtok.

Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas
Indian Army/Handout/Reuters

Rescue efforts have uncovered 25 bodies within the state of Sikkim, and an additional eight army personnel were found deceased in the neighboring downstream state of West Bengal, as reported by Vijay Bhushan Pathak, Sikkim’s chief secretary. Among the missing are 14 army personnel, according to a statement from the defense ministry.

Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas
Prakash Adhikari/AP

The search for survivors has been severely hindered by damaged roads, limited communication, and adverse weather conditions. Local residents are grappling with the daunting task of clearing the sludge and debris left behind by one of the worst disasters to hit this remote region in over five decades.

In West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, Parveen Shama, the top district official, reported the discovery of 41 bodies.

Sikkim, a Buddhist state nestled amidst the mountains between Nepal, Bhutan, and China, experienced an unprecedented 101 millimeters (four inches) of rain in the first five days of October, more than double the normal levels.

Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas
Birat Rai/Reuters

Lhonak Lake, a substantial glacial lake shaped like a bullet, sits at the base of a melting glacier. An analysis of images reveals that over 60% of the lake’s water drained out following an extreme rainstorm, triggering a glacial lake outburst. Scientists have long noted Lhonak Lake as one of the fastest-growing glacial lakes in the region, posing a significant risk of glacial outburst, as indicated by multiple studies.

Mukesh Kumar, a 43-year-old migrant worker in Rangpo, recounted how he and his neighbors had mere minutes to escape before the flash flood struck. He stated, “Had we not left just two minutes earlier, we might not have survived,” while surveying the debris that now covered his lodging.

Residents shared that many individuals living on the ground floor of their dwellings likely did not survive the sudden deluge.

Devastating Flash Floods In Indian Himalayas
Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

Government officials have reported that approximately 2,000 tourists stranded in isolated areas of northern Sikkim are safe. State authorities and the army have provided them with food and communication facilities to contact their families.

The Himalayan region, often referred to as the “roof of the world,” is ecologically fragile and susceptible to flash floods and landslides. While flooding is not uncommon in Sikkim, scientists assert that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are on the rise, a clear consequence of the accelerating human-induced climate crisis.

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John Smith

John Smith is a distinguished journalist, holding a Master's in Journalism from the renowned Columbia University. With a knack for uncovering the most captivating stories, John is the go-to expert for all things related to politics and current affairs. His insightful analysis and commitment to unbiased reporting set him apart in the world of journalism. John's writing ensures you're always in the know about the latest happenings in the USA.

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