Peruvian glacier breaks causing tsunami

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 13 April 2010

A huge glacier broke off and plunged into a lake in Peru, causing a 23m tsunami wave that swept away at least three people and destroyed a water processing plant serving 60 000 local residents, government officials said on Monday.

Hualcan, north of Huaraz

The ice block tumbled into a lake in the Andes on Sunday near the town of Carhuaz, 320km north of the capital, Lima. Three people were feared buried in debris.

Investigators said the chunk of ice from the Hualcan glacier measured 500m by 200m.

“This slide into the lake generated a tsunami wave, which breached the lake’s levees, which are 23 metres high – meaning the wave was 23 metres high,” said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru’s Institute of Mine Engineers.

Authorities evacuated mountain valleys, fearing more breakages.

It was one of the most concrete signs yet that glaciers are disappearing in Peru, home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical icefields. Scientists say warmer temperatures will cause them to melt away altogether within 20 years.

In 1970, not far from Carhuaz, an earthquake triggered an avalanche of ice, rock and mud on the mountain of Huascaran that buried the town of Yungay, killing more than 20 000 people who lived below Peru’s tallest peak, which sits 6 768m above sea level.
– Reuters

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