Flood From Melting Glaciers Strikes Tibet's Sog County

Monks from a nearby monastery rush to help move victims and their belongings to higher ground.

Map showing the location of Sog county in Tibet's Nagchu prefecture.

A massive wall of water roared through a village in Tibet’s Sog county at the weekend, washing away several houses and damaging others in an incident local sources blamed on melting glaciers, the village leader told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

The June 16 incident in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county’s Gyalchen township in the Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region has resulted in “major hardships” for residents of the area, Yangphel, chief of Gyalchen’s No. 5 Village, said.

“The flood came through in the night and totally destroyed four houses,” Yangphel said. “Other houses not washed away also suffered major damage.”

“This calamity has caused major hardships for the people in the area, though no human lives were lost,” Yangphel said.

Friday’s flood was likely caused by “excessive heat” linked to pollution and global warming that melted glaciers in the mountains, Yangphel said, adding that “other high areas of Tibet are experiencing similar kinds of natural calamities due to climatic change.”

Local Tibetans including monks from nearby Chugo monastery rushed to help flood victims, moving villagers and their possessions to higher ground and setting up tents as temporary shelters, Yangphel said.

“Chinese authorities said in media reports that official emergency workers from the county also came to Sog to help with relief efforts, but only the monks, with their robes soaked in mud, were really noticeable.”

“No emergency relief force was visible there,” Yangphel added.

Tibet’s glaciers, the source of Asia’s major rivers, are now melting at an accelerated rate, with glaciers at middle levels of elevation retreating faster than those at higher elevations, experts told RFA in earlier reports.

Reported by Sangye Dorjee for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.