10 dead, 102 Missing In India Glacial Lake Burst

On Thursday, Indian rescue teams searched for 102 people who went missing after a devastating flash flood caused by a high-altitude glacial lake burst killed at least ten people, according to officials.

Violent flooding from glacier lakes dammed by loose rock has become more common as global temperatures rise and ice melts, with climate scientists warning it poses an increasing danger across the wider Himalayan mountain range.

“At least 10 people were killed and 102 others reported missing,” Prabhakar Rai, director of the Sikkim state disaster management authority, told AFP a day after a wall of water rushed down the mountainous valley in northeastern India.

Authorities said roads had been “severely” damaged and that 14 bridges had been washed away.

Rescuers were battling to help those hit by the flood, with communications cut across large areas and roads blocked.

“Floodwaters have caused havoc in four districts of the state, sweeping away people, roads, bridges,” Himanshu Tiwari, an Indian Army spokesman, told AFP.

Twenty-two soldiers are among the missing, the army said. One previously missing soldier was rescued.

The army was working to reestablish telephone connections and provide “medical aid to tourists and locals stranded”, it said in a statement.

The water surge occurred after intense rainfall burst the high-altitude Lhonak Lake, which sits at the base of a glacier in the peaks surrounding the world’s third-highest mountain, Kangchenjunga.

According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than ever due to climate change, exposing communities to unpredictable and costly disasters.

‘Serious destruction’

Water rushed downstream, swollen by monsoon rains, breaching a dam, sweeping away buildings and bridges, and causing “serious destruction,” according to the Sikkim state government.

More than 120 kilometers (75 miles) downstream, damage was documented, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed “all possible support” to those impacted.

Lhonak Lake has reduced by about two-thirds in size, to an area roughly similar to 150 football fields (105 hectares), according to satellite images released by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

“Intense rain has led to this catastrophic situation in Sikkim where the rain has triggered a glacial lake outburst flood and damaged a dam, and caused loss of life,” said Miriam Jackson, a scientist specialising in ice who monitors Himalayan regions with the Nepal-based ICIMOD.

“We observe that such extreme events increase in frequency as the climate continues to warm and takes us into unknown territory.”

The average surface temperature of the Earth has increased by about 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, while high-mountain regions around the world have warmed at double that rate, according to climate scientists.

Sikkim is located near India’s borders with Nepal and China, and it has a significant military presence.

India has been apprehensive of China’s growing military aggression, and their shared 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) border has been a source of contention for years, with Beijing claiming sections of Sikkim

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