GILGIT: The helicopter services have been suspended in Hunza after heavy rains in the area, while water outflow from Attabad Lake has reached 3,200 cusecs.
The rate of erosion has also increased and visible cracks have appeared around the spillway, indicating that it may breach at any time.
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.
Authorities have made arrangements to have an adequate stock of food on stand-by to cater to the IDPs.
A 24-hour radio station has also been set up in Hunza to cover the situation in detail.
Increased pressure on spillway raises fears of floods
The amount of water flowing out of the Attabad lake spillway increased to 2,500 cusecs on Thursday, raising the possibility of flashfloods.
A senior government official told The Express Tribune that the rate of soil erosion of the spillway was quite high, so much so that boulders buried under the landslide’s debris had become visible.
He said that the upper layer of debris had consisted of sand and mud, which had now been eroded away to reveal rock.
“These boulders may temporarily block the spillway but they will eventually be destroyed by the water’s pressure,” he predicted.
He said that once the outflow of water increased to match the inflow, submerged villages would begin to resurface.
However, some say the situation remains precarious.
“The walls of the spillway have weakened as the water flow has increased,” the official claimed. He added that authorities are carefully monitoring the situation because the spillway could collapse at anytime, raising fears of a flashflood.
He said that government officials were still keeping an eye on evacuated villages to make sure people stayed away from the areas.
On the other hand, speaking in Islamabad, Director Operations and spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Sajjid Naeem said a breach of the spillway was unlikely at this time.
Villages located upstream from the Attabad lake continue to suffer as officials said a family residing in a camp upstream had to retreat to higher ground. The expanding lake has flooded the upper part of Shishkat, where the family of 15 was residing.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 4th, 2010.