HomeWorld NewsThe lake in India which was flooded was set to get an...

New Delhi:

Scientists and government officials were working on an early warning system for glacial flooding in a Himalayan lake in northeastern India when it burst its banks this week with deadly consequences.

The mountainous Sikkim state was plunged into a state of chaos on Wednesday as at least 40 people died in floods triggered by heavy rains and avalanches. It was one of the region’s worst disasters in 50 years, and dozens of people remained missing on Friday.

Officials involved in the project told Reuters that the first part of the system, a camera to monitor the level of Lahonq Lake and weather equipment, was installed last month.

Scientists said that if the warning system had been fully operational, people might have had more time to evacuate.

Details of the Lhonak Lake warning system have not been previously reported.

“It’s really quite absurd,” said Simon Allen, a geologist at the University of Zurich who is involved in the project. “The fact that this happened just two weeks after our team got there was pure bad luck”.

He said he planned to add a tripwire sensor that would trigger if the lake bursts. This will usually be linked to a warning system that will warn residents to immediately move to higher ground.

Reading: 18 people dead, around 100 missing due to flood in Himalayan lake in India

“The Indian government was not ready to do it this year, so it was being done as a two-step process,” he said.

According to a source at the Swiss Embassy, ​​which supports the project, the monitoring equipment was supposed to send data to authorities, but in late September the cameras lost power for an unknown reason.

As climate change warms high mountain regions, many communities are facing dangerous glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). Lakes storing water from melted glaciers can fill and burst, causing torrential rains in mountain valleys.

As of 2022, more than 200 such lakes now pose a major threat to Himalayan communities in India, Pakistan, China, Nepal and Bhutan. Research,

In recent years, glacial flood early warning systems have been deployed in China, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. Sources told Reuters that Lhonak Lake and another early warning system at nearby Shako Cho in Sikkim were among the first warning systems in India for floods coming from a glacial lake.

Scientists have said for years that both lakes are at risk of flooding, but time passed without progress as the design process and search for funding progressed.

Kamal Kishore, a senior official at India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said India plans to install early warning systems at several other glacial lakes.

He did not respond to further questions on the Lhonak project.

However, glaciologist Farooq Azam of the Indian Institute of Technology Indore said that even though the system was in place, the potential benefits were not always clear.

“These types of events happen so fast that even if we had some kind of early warning system… we might only have a gain of a few minutes, maybe an hour,” he said.

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