The calamity of Hunza lake

Hunza lake calamity.jpg

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.

Hunza lake

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.

Image:Dawn


6 thoughts on “The calamity of Hunza lake”

  1. While the nation is mostly kept entangled in judicial and political problems, a number of times key happenings fail to get register in our minds. Few factions of media, as we know it, has been focusing for the last two years in punching the PPP government on one matter or the other. The favorite punching bag remains whoever leads the PPP. This time round, the head of PPP is also the head of state which makes it all the more focused punching by some of our media groups. However, when they seem to be losing on fronts opened by themselves, they focus on natural phenomena (for a change). Again the target is not to alleviate the difficulties that people face, but the target is to show the inefficiency of the government in doing the needful.

    Recently, Pakistan has faced two natural “disasters”. One was the blockage of the Hunza River that would have led to a catastrophic flooding and then the Cyclone Phet that was to lash the coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh.

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  2. “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.”
    Why has the government not done enough? When it knows that if the Hunza lake over flows excessively it is a danger to the people living in the vicinity.Only when US shouts DO MORE then the government gets into action.Where is the US now? If it cares for the safety of the Pakistani citizens then why doesen’t it shout tp Pakistan to DO MORE about the safety of the citizens regarding the Hunza lake disaster? There is some two faced policy going on and the army is not where it is supposed to be ie helping at the Hunza disaster.

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  3. people of pakistan must be ready to face the big loss oflives
    property of affected areas of hunza, peoples of pakistanmust be ready to face big challenges if rise due to failure of hunza dam, government all alone cannot handle hunza dam project
    the time has approached, big cities of pakistan contribute donations prior to big national loss,call for donations must be announced earlier
    good luck
    naseem ahmed khan
    karachi/pakistan

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  4. Too little too late has so far been the reaction of concerned dissaster management authority of the government of Paksitan. The Prime Minister’s recent visit also proved disappointing to the calamity hit people whose hopes of relief measures were turned down by non announcement of any such measures citing reasons of further ” assessment”. It has been four months since this disaster befell people of that area but surprisingly the government couldn’t ‘assess’ the damage. Now that speaks either of incompetence or lack of interest!

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  5. If we talk about Taliban killing so many people. We must also try to protect the poor from such calamities. There should be a balance in both places. Army is once again the Institution to the rescue.

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  6. @hina,,
    seen masses moving in thousand out of kohistan….and d real problem is the fact that the river is very narrow, plus descending all the time adding more speed….and with mountains on both side the initial wave will maintain its intensity as far as i can see….
    lets hope that all goes well

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