The News – Panicked people took everything they could carry, even doors and windows, as Attabad Lake threatened to flood dozens of villages here, officials and witnesses said on Monday.
Water from the lake has submerged parts of Gulmit, a tourist resort on the main Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China, resident Rehan Shah said. The local administration had warned them to evacuate the area and move to relief camps set up by the government.
Officials in jeeps fitted with an address system called on people to leave their homes. Similar announcements have also been made from mosques in the area. According to Gilgit-Baltistan administration, the area was divided into two parts and every part was looked after by an Assistant Commissioner.
Revenue Officer Iqbal Jan said medicines and other edibles were stored in sufficient quantity, for about 18,000 displaced persons to be affected by the overtopping of water from the Hunza.
The water level of Attabad Lake is short of few feet from the spillways and it is likely to increase to 340-350 feet in three to four days, causing water to overflow. Met Office Director Mian Ajmal Shad said that the current water level is 330.8 feet. He said that the level of 340 to 350 feet is expected within the next 3 to 4 days.
The official said that the inflow in the lake is between 2,000 to 2,400 cusecs, while the outflow is 80 to 90 cusecs only. He added that the work on the spillway has been completed. The boat service for Attaabad Lake will be suspended from Tuesday as the water has reached the spillway built by Frontier Works Organization (FWO), for safe outflow of water from the reservoir, it was officially learnt here on Monday.
Suspension of the service will also disrupt the land communication between middle and upper Hunza. According to the district administration, the lake is spread over 16 kilometres and the water level is rising at the rate of three feet per 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah has said that affectees of Attaabad Lake were being shifted to safer places. He said that the government was trying to facilitate the people living near the lake and for this purpose, all available resources were being utilised.
Though, there is no chance of bursting of the lake but, as a precautionary measure all arrangements have been finalised, the chief minister said. “We are fully alert. All is set to deal with any situation. Special camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) have been set up. Sufficient arrangements for drinking water, shelter and security have been made besides storage of food items, medicines and other material,” he added.
He said the Pakistan Army with the help of civil administration was carrying out relief operation. If the lake water outbursts, it would not be harmful for Tarbella Dam, he said. He termed it a natural calamity and appealed to the people to pray to Almighty Allah for help to overcome the situation. Mehdi Shah said affectees would be compensated and lists in this regard were being prepared.
The chief minister said sirens had already been installed at different places, besides the emergency centers had been established for quick relief.The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has taken relief measures for the affectees of Ataabad Lake, besides adopting a strategy to control water level arisen alarmingly over 337 feet, which has submerged a long part of Karakurram Highway.
Talking to APP on Monday, NDMA official Brig Saeed said the authority has successfully launched a rescue operation. “If no fresh land sliding occurs, we would reopen the road today”, he informed.
Answering a question regarding the timeframe for normalisation of the situation, he said: “I cannot give proper timeframe. Hopefully the situation will be under controlled between May 20-30. It may take more time depending upon the circumstances.”
He said all necessary steps have been taken to facilitate the villagers, who have been affected and migrated to safer places.“Consignments of relief items including food items, tents, crockery etc are sent for the affectees “, he said.
All precautionary measures, he said, are being adopted to control any emergency situation that may arise due to bursting of the lake. “We have suffered a loss of more than 500 billion rupees since January,” president of the Gilgit chamber of commerce, Javed Hussain, told AFP in Karimabad, the main town in the picturesque Hunza valley.
Trade convoys arriving in the border town of Sust are sent to Hussaini town from where they are loaded onto boats to cross the lake, Hussain said.Then private loaders, carrying goods on their back put the cargo on jeeps for onward shipment to Gilgit, he said.
Around 36 villages may be submerged if the banks of the lake burst as the water level continues to rise, Iqbal Jan, a local government official said. “We have set up nine relief camps in Gilgit and 11 in Hunza and advised people to move now,” Jan said but admitted that most people preferred to go to friends or relatives.
Express Tribune – HUNZA: Water outflow from the spillway of a lake formed by landsliding in Hunza has stopped on Monday, causing flooding in adjacent areas.
The water from the lake in the Atta Abad area submerged 88 houses in Aeenabad and Shashkat while two bridges have also been swept away. The two areas also lost their ground link to other areas.
The water has reached Gilmat village where 42 houses and a commercial market were earlier evacuated.
Evacuations are also underway in other nearby villages.
The lake is 16 kilometers long and 350 meters wide. 2500 cusecs water is adding to the lake’s water, daily. The lake does not have an appropriate spillway which is threatening the lake to burst. FW and army engineers are working tirelessly to resolve the issue.