Attabad Village, January 12: A press release by FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance identifies four villages – Attabad Payeen, Attabad Bala, Sarat and Ayeenabad – as regions directly affected by the massive landslide in Hunza valley on January 4, 2010.
The voluntary Search and Rescue Team (SART), Disaster Assessment Response Team, Community Emergency Response Team and Village Emergency Response Teams, trained and equipped by FHA were immediately mobilized to respond to the emergency.
Thirteen people, including women and children, have been reported dead, while 9 are injured and 6 are still missing. In the upper part of Hunza valley, a population of about 20,000 people has been cut off from the rest of Hunza region. “We are still trying to get to these people. Unfortunately if we don’t, soon, food and other supplies will run short. This is also winter time in the region, so families living without shelter and heating are even more vulnerable,” the press release quotes Fozia Anwar, a female volunteer working with the SART team in Hunza valley.
Ahmadabad and Ayeenabad, have been evacuated to mitigate the threat posed by water build-up and possible dam breakage in the area. Wazir Baig, Speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) and Mutabiat Shah, Member, GBLA, along with officials from the National Disaster Management Authority are overseeing the response and relief efforts in Aliabad, Hunza, where relief items from all agencies are being collected. Search and rescue operations are still in progress by the Pakistan Army, local administration, volunteers, residents and trained FOCUS experts.
FOCUS Pakistan is also working closely with the Internally Displaced Persons camps in Hunza. 216 families have been registered in four school camps established in the Altit village. Seven trucks carrying relief goods including flour, rice, sugar, pulses, tea, fuel, kitchen utilities, blankets, pillows and other items, reached Aliabad on January 10, 2010. Bedding and immediate utility items were provided to nearly 173 families in the camps, while other relief items are being stored under the supervision of local administration, and will be issued on a needs-basis.
As part of its mandate, FOCUS Pakistan conducts regular geological survey and hazard assessments of vulnerable areas across the country, especially in the mountainous areas of northern Pakistan, including Gilgit – Baltistan. According to a 2006 assessment of the affected area, there was a high risk of rapid movements and potential disaster. The survey also projected debris fall resulting in the blockage of the Hunza River. According to the report, the eastern part of the village was the most vulnerable.
“One block of the area had already detached in a landslide in 1994. Since then, there was a projected risk of another block falling off, since there were obvious cracks stretched over 100 meters of land,” said a FOCUS geologist who conducted the survey in 2006.
The survey and hazard assessment report were shared with the Gilgit – Baltistan government, due to which 25 households were evacuated from Attabad Bala to relocate to safer locations in March 2009.