More than 400 lives have been claimed by floods in India this month and villagers in the north faced a new danger last week, when rockslides blocked a major river.
More than 400 lives have been claimed by floods in India this month and villagers in the north faced a new danger last week, when rockslides blocked a major river. The landslide dam on the Bahagirathi River threatened to send a series of flash floods from Uttarkashi down to Allahabad and warnings were relayed to all towns in the area.
SYNOPSIS: In the last week, breaches have opened up in the blockade, easing the pressure from the lake created by the Bahagirathi landslide. The natural seepage has saved the Indian Army from making the difficult decision on blasting the dam and risking worse damage. So far there have been three flash floods, which occurred shortly after the rockslide. No deaths were reported, but damage caused by the thirty-foot (9.1 metres) tidal waves was considerable. Heavy rain, which raised the level of the lake, added to fears of more destruction.
The floodwaters washed away bridges and submerged roads, including the main one from Uttarkashi to Gangotri, an important defence route. Several important power projects were also seriously damaged.
The immediate pressing problem is evacuating and housing people in the threatened area. Hundreds of villages have been flooded already, leaving several thousand homeless.
The Indian Airforce has been flying in essential supplies for the stranded villagers. In some areas, helicopters are the only practical means of reaching the homeless, and the government has ordered the air-dropping of enough stocks to last at least a fortnight.