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Namenode not starting because of Namenode not formatted error

I cannot format name node since it is my production cluster. Namenode is not starting because of this error though:

Please suggest what needs to be done to fix this safely

Encountered exception loading fsimage NameNode is not formatted.
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.FSImage.recoverTransitionRead(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.FSNamesystem.loadFSImage(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.FSNamesystem.loadFromDisk(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.loadNamesystem(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.initialize(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.<init>(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.<init>(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.createNameNode(
	at org.apache.hadoop.hdfs.server.namenode.NameNode.main(

Rising Star

@Simran kaur, we don't usually format a production cluster unless it is absolutely necessary? Can you elaborate on what happened to the namenode (like hdfs command that had been executed) before the NN fail to start?