Melting glacier floods Alaska state capital Juneau

At least two buildings were destroyed and others evacuated after a lake overflowed

House collapses into the Mendenhall River in Juneau, Alaska

House collapses into the Mendenhall River in Juneau, Alaska
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At least two buildings in Juneau, Alaska have been destroyed and residents of others have been evacuated due to flooding caused by the release of water from a glacier-dammed lake, officials said.

The Mendenhall River flooded on Saturday due to a major release from Suicide Basin above the Alaskan state capital, a news release from the City and Borough of Juneau said on Sunday.

Footage posted on social media showed trees falling into the rushing river as the water ate away at the bank. Eventually, a house, which had been teetering at the edge, also collapsed into the river.

The water levels were falling by Sunday, but the city authorities said the riverbanks remained highly unstable. Some roadways had been blocked by silt and debris from the flooding, they added.

Such floods occur when glaciers melt, pouring massive amounts of water into nearby lakes. A study released earlier this year found such floods pose a risk to 15 million people around the globe, more than half of them in India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

Water release from Suicide Basin has caused flooding along the Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River on several occasions since 2011, according to the National Weather Service. However, the maximum water level in the lake on Saturday night exceeded the previous record set in July 2016.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 1:43 PM