Glacial lake outburst flood kills 14 in Sikkim, 102 people missing: What is GLOF, and why does it happen?

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Source: The post is based on the article “Glacial lake outburst flood kills 14 in Sikkim, 102 people missing: What is GLOF, and why does it happen?” published in “The Indian Express” on 6th October 2023

What is the News?

Fourteen people have died and 102 people are missing in Sikkim after the burst of the South Lhonak Lake (a glacial lake) due to heavy rains.

What is Glacial Lake outburst flood(GLOF)? 

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Where is South Lhonak Lake?

South Lhonak Lake is a glacial-moraine-dammed lake, located in Sikkim’s far northwestern region.

It was formed due to the melting of the Lhonak glacier.

It is one of the fastest expanding lakes in the Sikkim Himalaya region, and one of the 14 potentially dangerous lakes susceptible to Glacial lake outburst flood(GLOFs).

It plays a role in the hydrological cycle, releasing water downstream, ultimately benefiting the Teesta River basin.

Where is Chungthang Dam?

Chungthang Dam, also known as the Chungthang Hydroelectric Project, is a dam and hydroelectric power station located in Chungthang, a town in Sikkim.

It is an integral part of the 1200 MW mega Teesta Stage III Hydro Electric Project, a major source of electricity for Sikkim and West Bengal.

It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric project, which was commissioned in 2017.

What happened in Sikkim?

South Lhonak Lake, a glacial lake in the upper reaches of Sikkim, burst its banks following a cloudburst in the area. 

The lake burst resulted in a sudden rise in the water level of the Teesta River and a flash flood.

This further led to the breach of the Chungthang Hydro-Dam in Sikkim causing parts of it to give way.

These all led to massive flooding downstream. 

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