Lull season may have saved many lives in Uttarakhand

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 07, 2021

Experts are determining the exact nature of the flash floods which occurred in Uttarakhand on Sunday morning with more than 100 people missing. They believe that the scale of the disaster would have been much higher if it were not for the winter climes that rule out large tourist gatherings in the hills.


“We are yet to confirm whether it is a Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails,” says Colonel (retired) Sanjay Srivastava, a Delhi-based disaster management expert and consultant, and Chairman of the Climate Resilient Observing-Systems Promotion Council; Convener of the Lightning Resilient India Campaign; and General Manager of the National Seismic Risk Mitigation Programme.

Awaiting guidance, evidence

Srivastava said he is in constant touch with the Emergency Operations Centre of Uttarakhand. According to him, disaster management experts are awaiting guidance from the country’s advanced scientific institutions for satellite pictures and other evidence to determine the disaster’s cause and severity.

“We totally depend on satellite maps to see what has really happened on ground. It is a suspected case of GLOF/breach of glacier. The incident is being investigated by the highest technological institutions of the country which employ the most advanced observation systems,” Srivastava told BusinessLine.

According to him, at the time of the disaster, only people associated with the three ongoing projects were present at the site. At one location, out of the 25 people trapped in a tunnel, 16 have been saved. At another place, the rescue teams have established contact with 35 people who are feared to be trapped.

Danger level 2 warning

Rescue efforts were stopped with dusk setting in, Srivastava said. Meanwhile, an avalanche warning bulletin from the National Disaster Management Authority has declared danger level 2 over an area covering Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti and Kullu in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of above 2,900 metres until 5 pm on Monday.

Danger level 2 warning indicates partly unsafe conditions with small size triggering possible on a few extreme slopes, warranting care while moving along the valley and advising nil movement along slopes. There is, however, no specific warning on Monday for Uttarakhand that witnessed disaster on Sunday.

Published on February 07, 2021

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