Indians evacuated from ‘sinking’ holy town of Joshimath

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Authorities in one of the holiest towns in the Indian Himalayas were evacuating panicked residents on Sunday after hundreds of houses began developing yawning cracks and sinking, officials said.

The cause of the apparent subsidence in Joshimath in the northern state of Uttarakhand was unclear, but residents blamed the building of roads and tunnels for a nearby hydroelectric project. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a high-level meeting on Sunday to discuss the problem after the government formed an expert panel to carry out a “rapid study” into the cause. Local official Himanshu Khurana told AFP that at least 60 families had been relocated into shelters and many more were likely to be shifted out from their sinking dwellings.

Residents said a much larger number had already fled their homes and that around 600 houses and hotels were sinking in the town of around 20,000 people.

Another official said on condition of anonymity that several areas in the town had been “demarcated unsafe” and entry restricted.— AFP