Visible cracks have formed in and around the spillway as the amount of water discharged from the Attabad lake doubled on Wednesday, officials said.
“Visible cracks have appeared around the spillway which means the spillway can breach at any time,” said the assistant commissioner Hunza, Zamir Abbas.
Talking to The Express Tribune by phone, Abbas said the outflow of water has reached up to 1,200 cusecs as against 640 cusecs recorded on Tuesday.
“It’s a good sign as the total discharge of water is increasing,” he said.
The slow flow of water through the spillway has caused the lake to expand in length and depth, allowing water to submerge more and more houses in villages upstream.
Spread across more than 23 kilometres upwards of Attabad to Gojal, the landslide-triggered lake is now 370 feet deep, and, locals said, inundated another 12 houses, a community centre and five shops in Gulmit and Shishkat villages on Wednesday. They said that the surging lake is now inching towards Passu village, about 35 kilometres from Attabad.
Deputy Commissioner Zafar Taj said that the authorities were being vigilant and studying the behavior of the lake regularly to ensure that they could react in a timely fashion in the event that an emergency situation arises.
“The downstream villages vulnerable to imminent floods have been emptied and displaced people have not been allowed to return to their villages,” he said.
He said the authorities had made arrangements to have an adequate stock of food on stand-by to cater to the needs of IDPs if the lake overflowed its banks at any point.
The Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mehdi Shah, visited the Gojal areas on Wednesday to distribute checks among people who had been stranded since the Karakoram Highway was blocked five months ago.
At least 25,000 people in Gojal have been cut off after the landslide swept away parts of Karakoram Highway in January.
In other measures, Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Mian Manzoor Wattoo announced a free food package for the stranded people of Gojal last night.
A 24-hour radio station has also been set up in Hunza, which is covering the situation at the Attabad lake in detail. On Wednesday, Mehdi Shah thanked the information minister and the PBC’s director general for helping to set up the FM-93 radio station in Hunza.
Published in the Express Tribune, June, 3rd, 2010.
More in PakistanPolitical parties wrestle to gain the upper hand