KATHMANDU – The Nepalese Army said Tuesday it has drained a dangerous glacial lake in the Mount Everest region, successfully completing a pilot project aimed at averting glacial lake outburst floods in the country.
Lt. Col. Bharat Lal Shrestha said it took a team of 40 soldiers and 100 Sherpas and local villagers six months to lower the water level at Imja glacial lake by 3.4 meters.
“By building a diversion canal, we have successfully drained 4 million cu. meters of water from the lake,” Shrestha, who led the team, told Kyodo News.
Located at an elevation of 5,000 meters south of Mount Everest, the Imja glacial lake is the fastest-growing lake in the Himalayas and among the most dangerous in Nepal, posing significant threats to thousands of people living in downstream settlements.
Last year’s devastating quakes are believed to have further destabilized the lake, which was 149 meters deep before Shrestha’s team lowered its water to safe level.
“The Nepal Army now has the proven capacity to execute similar projects at other glacial lakes that are at risk of breaching their banks,” Shrestha said.
The project was initiated by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and funded by the U.N. Development Program.
The Himalayas are home to thousands of glacial lakes that are filling up fast with accelerated melting of glaciers because of global warming.
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