The catastrophe in Uttarakhand may have been unprecedented, but it is not as if the state government wasn’t unaware of the looming threat. Government reports had warned of the unchecked dangers of urbanisation, and from power projects
The dreadful night of June 16 was marked by landslides and torrential rain. The morning after was deceptively calm as people started to gather at the Kedarnath shrine perched at a height of 3,581 metres in the Garhwal Himalayas. The peace was suddenly broken by a booming crash of thunder. And even as confused devotees looked up, they saw a massive, dark surge rushing down at incredible speed from the hills behind the temple. A cloudburst probably had occurred at Vasukital or Gandhi Sarovar lake in the nearby mountains.
The harrowing video footage of what followed has been shown on national television networks and went viral on the Internet. Within a few minutes, water, slush and boulders as big as houses struck the Kedarnath area leaving very little time for most of the pilgrims to escape the deluge. A few lucky ones ran toward the shrine.