Lake burst leads to flash floods in Leh village

ITBP and SDRF personnel rescuing a trapped civilian at village Rumbak in Leh on Sunday. — Excelsior/Morup Stanzin
ITBP and SDRF personnel rescuing a trapped civilian at village Rumbak in Leh on Sunday. — Excelsior/Morup Stanzin

No casualties, 15 rescued

Excelsior Correspondent

LEH, Aug 22: A bridge, culverts and standing crops were damaged in flash floods in several villages in Ladakh, where authorities sounded an alert after an artificial lake burst resulting in blockage of the Zanskar river.
Chief Executive Officer, District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Sonam Chosjor said there was an burst of an artificial lake near Rumbak village today, resulting in blockage of Zanskar river and thereby creating an artificial lake in the area.
The officials said the artificial lake triggered flash floods early this morning, damaging the Rumbak bridge, five culverts, Water Flour Mills and standing crops spread over a large area in the village and adjoining areas.
However, there was no report of any casualty, the officials said, adding rescue teams are on the spot.
A team headed by Tehsildar Leh with officials of PHE, Irrigation and PWD besides the Local Councillor visited Rumbak this morning and reported that flood has caused major damages in the village Rumbak and its hamlets Rumchung and Jingchen and stretches of roads at various locations were either damaged or washed away.
“Five culverts have also been washed away, around 20 to 30 kanals of agriculture land was destroyed, many trees, five Water Flour Mills and many head-works of Irrigation Khuls were also washed away or damaged,” the team reported.
It, however, said that villagers have got adequate stock of ration and medicine but restoration of roads and water supply was immediately required.
Sources said the Chairman DDMA Leh/Deputy Commissioner Leh has directed the Chief Engineer, Construction Division Leh and Executive Engineer Jal Shakti to depute men and machinery to restore roads and water supply on war footing.
Restoration works have already begun. Road and water supply in the affected areas are likely to be restored within two to three days, they said.
A group of around 15 persons from Spituk village, who were in the valley for Hot Spring Water Therapy, have been safely rescued by the locals, officials and UT DRF teams. The ITBP personnel also joined the rescue operation.
Today morning, Deputy Commissioner Leh Shrikant Balasaheb Suse along with representatives of District Police and Indian Army conducted air recce of the area and confirmed that the Rumbak flood was result of outburst of glacial lake formed on the peak of a mountain towards the upstream of village Rumbak.
As soon as the report of flood was received, the district administration and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) also swung into action
The administration immediately directed the Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) of Likir and Khaltsi to immediately evacuate the people residing near Indus banks.
The DDMA had issued an alert Sunday evening asking senior officers including Chief Engineer NHPC Nemo Basgo Project, Sub Divisional Magistrates of Liker and Khaltsi and Ladakh Disaster Response Force to stay alert and prepared for flooding in the Indus river.
The population living downstream Nemo was also asked to prepare for flooding in the river, the officials said.
They said the road approaching Rumbak, Zingchen, Yurutse and Rumchung has been cut off from the main road.
Senior officers are monitoring the situation that is well under control, the officials said.
Sources said Leh had witnessed Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in 1833, 1834, 1841, 1858, 1930 (Shayok Valley); 1907 and 1908 (Leh), 2003 (Domkhar), 2010 (Nidder), 2014 (Gaya), 2015 (Phugtal) and 2017 (Achinathang) etc as due to climate change the glaciers are thinning and retreating resulting into formation of glacier lakes on mountain peaks.
“As Glaciers retreat, the formation of glacial lakes takes place behind moraine or ice dam. These damming materials are generally weak and can burst suddenly due to various triggering factors like formation of lake in weak morain structures leading to floods,” they added.