Over 30 people have died and nearly 200 more are reported missing after flash floods burst a dam in the state of Uttarakhand on Sunday. Reportedly caused by the separation of a glacier, the torrent of water swept away homes and livestock and damaged two hydropower projects along the Dhauliganga river.
A piece of the Nanda Devi glacier and the resulting avalanche broke through the Rishiganga Hydrolectric dam, trapping dozens of men in tunnels blocked by debris.
Fifty were feared dead, said Uttarakhand police chief Ashok Kumar. However, emergency responders saved 16 from one tunnel and worked to save 30 more trapped in another.
Over 600 personnel of the Indian Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and national and state response teams have been deployed to the disaster. They have brought much-needed rations of medicine and food to villages isolated by the floods.
“I express my closeness to the victims of the calamity that happened three days ago in the north of India, where part of a glacier separated itself, provoking violent flooding that devastated the construction sites of two power plants,” he said.
“I pray for the workers who died and for their families and for all those who were harmed and wounded.”
At the audience, the pope spoke of the “invincible hope” that Christian prayer brings to the human heart.