A massive landslide hit Hunza District on 4th January 2010, followed by boulders spread over about 4km depositing 263 feet high debris, sliding two villages including Atta Abad into the Hunza River, creating a huge and still growing artificial lake. Due to this landslide, the District Administration also had to close a portion of the famous trade route between Pakistan and China i.e. the silk route or Shahra-e-Karakorum.
The authorities were working to make 24 metre-deep spillways for the passage of water that could submerge the low-lying areas. The catastrophe becomes severe with further landslides & increasing water level. The lake has engulfed not only the surrounding villages of Hunza but also submerged parts of Karakoram highway & continued to expand over 20km owing to the melting of the glacier at a high speed, leading to a major breach. About 14,000 people in 34 villages of the Gilgit-Baltistan region could be uprooted if the lake bursts.
It is feared that the lake will burst soon and trigger heavy flooding that could affect 50,000 people of nearby 36 villages. Most of the villages are being evacuated giving rise to another IDP (internally displaced persons) crisis after Swat crisis in 2009. People of Hunza are literally stranded as the only transportation available is boat service which was abandoned from last few days. The lake has already swamped at least four upstream villages, displacing nearly 6,000 people. Thousands of people are accommodated at relief camps, with nearly five families sharing one tent.
Relief work has been in progress but the government has not done enough and is playing down the gravity of the situation. The incident happened way back in January but still a thereat for the residents. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority PDMA estimates suggested that 900 families in Allai in Batagram district, 2,704 families in Kala Dhaka in Mansehra, 750 families in two sub-tehsils of Shangla and 6,507 families in Kohistan are included in the vulnerable population.
Around 10,000 tents, 15,000 blankets, 10,000 food bags and 1,000 gas cylinders would be required for the four districts to meet the needs in case of evacuation. The PDMA has provided 70 percent of relief items and sufficient funds to the relevant district administration.