Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Huge piece of glacier breaks off in Peru - tsunami breaches 75-ft. levees

A gigantic chunk of ice has broken off a glacier in Peru and plunged into a lake causing a 75-foot high tsunami that swamped and devastated a nearby town.

The massive glacier piece - about the size of four football fields - slid and rolled into '513 lake' in the Andes near Carhuaz, around 200 miles north of Lima.

A water processing plant serving 60,000 residents was also destroyed when the wave struck on Sunday. Six people were reported missing  under the debris - but five of those have been found alive.

Authorities evacuated mountain valleys, fearing more ice breakages after the tsunami - which are most commonly caused by earthquakes. Blaming climate change, local adminsistrator Alvarez said: "Because of global warming the glaciers are going to detach and fall on these overflowing lakes. This is what happened."

Investigators said the ice chunk from the Hualcan Glacier measured 500m by 200m. Patricio Vaderrama, a Peruvian glacier expert, said: "The tsunami wave breached the lake's levees, which are 23m high - meaning the wave was 23m high."

Peru is home to 70 per cent of the world's tropical icefields.

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