Hunza lake may burst its banks, says Met office

by Intikhab Hanif

LAHORE, May 12: The Flood Forecasting Division of the Pakistan Meteorological Department warned on Wednesday that the lake created in Hunza valley by a massive landslide in January could be breached at any time because water was continuously flowing into its lake.

In an advisory issued to all government departments, the division said that appropriate measures should be taken as quickly as possible to deal with the threat.

The problem should be resolved by May 25. “Otherwise, there will be overflow of water. The resulting chain reaction may also damage Tarbela dam,” head of the division, Hazrat Mir, told Dawn.

The FFD had issued a similar warning on March 31, urging authorities to take immediate measures to avert any catastrophe.

According to the latest advisory prepared by Mr Mir, the Indus flows are mainly based on the glacier/snowmelt contribution and the Hunza River, on which the dam has been formed, is one of the major contributors to the flows.

With an increase in temperature, the snowmelt rises very rapidly and the average discharge at Dinyore downstream Attabad, jumps from 6,000 cusecs during May to 20,000 cusecs during June, and to 40,641 cusecs during July.

The latest report by the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) indicates that the discharge these days is more than 2,300 cusecs and the level of the lake is 320 feet at Attabad.

The present rise in the level of the lake due to this is approximately 3 feet per day which will reach 5 feet per day in the near future. With this rate of rise in level the situation may become critical soon.

The banks of the lake are not properly constructed and there is no proper spillway. So there is the likelihood that the increasing pressure from the additional water accumulating in the lake will create breaches in the dam, “which will develop into the worst kind of flash floods in the Hunza River, creating havoc downstream”, according to the advisory.

In its earlier advisory on March 3, the FFD had indicated that blasting by the KKH (Karakoram Highway) constructors might have caused cracks in the mountain slopes which gave way due to an earthquake, blocking the Hunza River.

It had said the natural lakes created in the hilly areas due to landslides posed a major threat to the localities situated downstream. This threat was proportional to the value of water contained in the lakes.

Meanwhile, some residents of Gilgit-Baltistan said that overflowing of water from the lake at Attabad would be devastating for the people of the area.

Speaking at a news conference at the Lahore Press Club, Baba Jan, a former member of the District Council, Gilgit, and others said the time was running out fast. The water level had reached dangerous levels.

It was now time for people to be evacuated from the area, they added.

They said the lake which had already caused a lot of damage to the region was bound to affect tourism resort Gulmat Gojal in a day or two, damaging hundreds of houses, three main hotels, several orchards and agriculture land. DAWN

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  1. The Pak army should identify bridges which will be breached and pre-position bridging equipment and detachments to immediately reconstruct military style bridges.
    Dumping of rations a, fuel , medicines and boats should be immediately pre- positioned. Skardu will also be effected and although airports will be open but moving supplies further up will not be possible due to lack of bridges and portions of road which will be swept.
    We must prepare for the worst case.
    Murphies law should not be over looked

  2. I am not sure if outburst of the lake will have any damaging effects on Tarbela Dam. As per calculations of water inflow (NDMA) at Attaabad lake, it is under 1.5 percent of the Tarbala capacity. As per Wikipedia Tarbela has a live storage of 12 billion cubic meters. Even if we take water inflow at current rate at Attaabad Lake for last 130 days this will be still under 6 percent of the Tarbela dam which is a very over estimate.

  3. This is worst scenerio of our govt. officials that at the end stage they are forecasting about the consequences of landslide, while FOCUS Pakistan and other associated specialists warned about the out-brust and its subsequent damages. Now the biased govt. worried about the terbela not about the people of the Hunza who are being affected at downstream/upstream. But the fact is, Terbela dam has a huge water storage capacity and the current water level is some feets above the dead level, so I believe that it will absorb the flooded water. The most critical activity is to complete the spillway drain to avoid the further water level increase at upstream.

  4. Farman is right.

    I wish the NDMA and the Government should have read report of Dr David Petley which was given to NDMA and Govt. by FOCUS. I also wish the government should have followed the recommendation of World bank expert Dr Allesndro who had come to Attabad in March. We really wonder what happened to Million and Millions that World Bank and donor agencies spent on capacity building in natural disasters of NDMA. I wish that some of the monies would have been spent on capacity building of serious NGOs like FOCUS,etc and the local communities. There are lessons to be learned from Attaabad…….some serious lessons that we need to understand and learn more about landslides,landslide dams, avalanches, GLOF. Why not have a International conference on this. Please FOCUS take the lead.Thanks you

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