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Bhutan

How Melting Glaciers And 'Mountain Tsunamis' Threaten Himalayan Kingdom Of Bhutan

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas put the small Kingdom of Bhutan at risk. Not only are the “frozen reservoirs” a fundamental water source, but the melting can also cause GLOFS – aka: 'mountain tsunamis' - killer flash floods that occur

On the Druk Path Trek between Timphu and Paro in Bhutan
On the Druk Path Trek between Timphu and Paro in Bhutan
Julien Bouissou

THIMPU -- The Kingdom of Bhutan, tucked between India and China in the foothills of the Himalaya mountain range, is paying the price for global industrialization. To the north of the country, a chain of Himalayan glaciers suffer increasingly unstable rates of melting and concerns about the long-term viability of the ice in the face of global warming.

Water flows from these melting glaciers until it breaks the natural ice dams that hold it in place. That, in turn, can result in devastating floods like the one that occurred in 1994, when a torrent of mud killed dozens of people in Bhutan and wiped out entire villages. Western scientists call this phenomenon a glacial lake outburst flood, or GLOF. With 24 of its 2,674 glacial lakes considered unstable, Bhutan is preparing in the coming years for even deadlier "mountain tsunamis," as the phenomenon is sometimes referred to.

Bhutan is one of the first countries in the world to make GLOF prevention a national priority. In 2005, the government received environmental protection funds financed in part by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The money was earmarked in part to help Bhutan drain water from the Thorthormi glacial lake and reinforce its natural dams. But at that high altitude, the work is difficult, dangerous and ultimately costly.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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