Fourteen dead, 102 missing after Indian glacial lake bursts bank in heavy rain

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least 14 people were killed and 102, including 22 army personnel, were missing in northeast India on Thursday after heavy rain caused a glacial lake to burst its banks, triggering flash floods down a mountain valley, officials said.

The disaster, which has affected the lives of 22,000 people, authorities said, is the latest in a series of deadly weather events in South Asia’s mountains blamed on climate change.

“The search operations are being undertaken under conditions of incessant rains, fast-flowing water in Teesta river, roads and bridges washed away at many places,” a defence spokesperson said on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

A cloudburst dropped a huge amount of rain over a short period on the Lhonak glacial lake on Wednesday, triggered flash floods down the Teesta valley, about 150 km (93 miles) north of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim state, near the border with China.

The state disaster management agency said 26 people were injured and 102 were missing, as of early Thursday. Eleven bridges were washed away.

Video footage from the ANI news agency, showed flood waters surging into built-up areas where several houses collapsed, army bases and other facilities were damaged and vehicles submerged.

The weather department has warned of landslides and disruption to flights as more rain is expected over the next two days in parts of Sikkim and neighbouring states.

Other mountainous areas of India, as well as parts of neighbouring Pakistan and Nepal have been hit by torrential rains, flooding and landslides in recent months, killing scores of people.

Last year, Pakistan blamed climate change for unprecedented floods caused by historic monsoon rains that washed away roads, crops, infrastructure and bridges, and killed at least 1,000 people.

“Sadly, this is the latest in a series of deadly flash floods that ricocheted across the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region this monsoon, bringing the reality of this region’s extreme vulnerability to climate change all too vividly alive,” said Pema Gyamtsho, director general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta and Krishn Kaushik in New Delhi, Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar; editing by Robert Birsel)

Leave a Comment