France, Jan. 29 -- On the slopes of the Himalayas, nearly 2,000 metres above sea level, the hill town of Joshimath is sinking. Experts fear it's one of many settlements in the ecologically fragile region in danger of being wiped out because of subsidence worsened by large-scale construction and climate change.

Satellite images of Joshimath, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, show that the town sank by more than five centimetres in just 12 days earlier this month, according to a preliminary report by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The images, released by ISRO's National Remote Sensing Centre, indicate rapid subsidence of 5.4 centimetres between 27 December last year and 8 January.

It comes after the town,located at an...