(Update 1: adds info on casualties)
New Delhi, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- At least nine people have died and 150 are missing after a glacier burst in the Himalayas in northern India on Sunday, triggering a massive flood of water and mud that destroyed or severely damaged two hydroelectric power plants under construction and other infrastructure in its path.
Thousands of people have been evacuated.
Disaster response force personnel and about 350 members of different police forces are currently working on rescue efforts, while another 600 are on standby, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said on Twitter.
Much of the rescue work is focusing on searching for workers at two under-construction hydropower plants affected by the avalanche.
“Police, SDRF, Army and ITBP teams are doing their best to save the lives of the workers at both the construction sites affected by the disaster,” he said.
“Two bodies have already been recovered and we are doing our best to lessen the damage caused by the disaster.
The director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Surjeet Singh Deswal, in statements to the local news agency ANI, raised the number of dead, having “recovered between nine and ten bodies from the river” in the area where the NTPC plant is located.
Mobile phone footage shared on social media of the moment the avalanche struck show the sudden surge of a large column of mud and water along the riverbed, striking the valley slopes with force and destroying at least one of the hydroelectric power plants in its path.
“At the moment there are no additional water flows or floods anywhere,” the Uttarakhand chief minister said early in the afternoon.
The regional police appealed on social media to residents of the affected areas to remain calm and move to safe places while rescue services arrive.
“I am constantly monitoring the unfortunate situation in Uttarakhand. India stands by Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. EFE-EPA