The danger within: Seven families evacuated as risk of avalanches looms large

Early warning system to be installed in 18 parts of G-B, including Karkulti village

Shabbir Mir March 31, 2016
Early warning system to be installed in 18 parts of G-B, including Karkulti village. PHOTO COURTESY: RAZA QASIR

GILGIT: At least seven families have been shifted to safer places in Karkulti village of Ghizer district after the risk of avalanches increased in the valley.

“There is definitely a threat to the population and that’s why people were shifted from the village,” Meraj Abbasi, a resident of Kullurti village told The Express Tribune. Karkulti village was hit by an avalanche in 2012 in which three people lost their lives.

“If an avalanche hits the village, loss of lives can’t be averted,” Abbasi added.

Taking precautions

According to residents of Karkulti village, the government and a variety of NGOs have increased supervision in the area following heavy snowfall this winter to minimise losses to lives and property.

G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman recently announced equipment was purchased to deal with natural calamities in a timely and effective manner.

“We, along with government officials, surveyed Ghizer to obtain first-hand information about possible avalanches and landslides,” said Lal Khan, an official at Focus Humanitarian Assistance – an agency of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

He added the focus remains on installing an early warning system in 18 parts of G-B, including Karkulti village. “This will ensure weather updates are received in a timely manner and losses are minimised,” he added.

Temporary arrangement

According to Lal, the decision to shift locals from Karkulti village is a temporary arrangement.

“Families have been asked to stay away [from the village], especially at night, for at least one month until the risk of avalanches subsides,” he said. Residents have also been provided tents and other amenities.

“As the weather gets warmer, the risk of avalanches increases in the mountainous region,” Lal said.

Karkulti village is situated near Darkut where incessant landslides and avalanches have forced 350 families to migrate. Signs of life have been replaced by a wasteland of boulder clay punctuated by ruined houses, rust shrubs and sharp trees.

On March 22, an avalanche swept away parts of Hunza-Nagar Road in Miacher Valley of Nagar. The road was otherwise considered to be safe. The catastrophe struck about 20 kilometres away from Karakoram International University where dozens of experts were speaking at a seminar on World Water Day.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st,  2016.


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