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Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India flood

 
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СообщениеДобавлено: 22.02.2021 12:36    Заголовок сообщения: Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India flood Ответить с цитатой

Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India floods?



In a village in the Indian Himalayas, generations of residents have believed that nuclear devices lie buried under the snow and rocks in the towering mountains above.

So when Raini got hit by a huge flood earlier in February, villagers panicked and rumours flew that the devices had "exploded" and triggered the deluge. In reality, scientists believe, a piece of broken glacier was responsible for the flooding in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, in which more than 50 people have died.

But tell that to the people of Raini - the farming mountain village with 250 households - and many don't quite believe you. "We think that the devices could have played a role. How can a glacier simply break off in winter? We think the government should investigate and find the devices," Sangram Singh Rawat, the headman of Raini, told me.

At the heart of their fears is an intriguing tale of high-altitude espionage, involving some of the world's top climbers, radioactive material to run electronic spy systems, and spooks.

It is a story about how the US collaborated with India in the 1960s to place nuclear-powered monitoring devices across the Himalayas to spy on Chinese nuclear tests and missile firings. China had detonated its first nuclear device in 1964.

"Cold War paranoia was at its height. No plan was too outlandish, no investment too great and no means unjustified," notes Pete Takeda, a contributing editor at US's Rock and Ice Magazine, who has written extensively on the subject.

In October 1965, a group of Indian and American climbers lugged up seven plutonium capsules along with surveillance equipment - weighing some 57kgs (125 pounds) - which were meant to be placed on top of the 7,816-metre (25,643-ft) Nanda Devi, India's second highest peak, and near India's north-eastern border with China.

A blizzard forced the climbers to abandon the climb well short of the peak. As they scampered down, they left behind the devices - a six-foot-long antenna, two radio communication sets, a power pack, and the plutonium capsules - on a "platform".

One magazine reported that they were left in a "sheltered cranny" on a mountainside which was sheltered by the wind. "We had to come down. Otherwise many climbers would have been killed," Manmohan Singh Kohli, a celebrated climber who worked for the main border patrol organisation and led the Indian team, said.

When the climbers returned to the mountain next spring to look for the device and haul it back to the peak, they had vanished.

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