Hunza lake begins discharge

Express May 23, 2010

HUNZA: The wall around Attabad lake has been breached Sunday at different points discharging 200 cusecs of water. This incident happened before the water level could reach the actual spillway.

The water level has been increased by 2.7 feet in the lake and is rising by 4 inches every 3 hours, while the water inflow is being recorded 3,300 cusecs on a daily basis.According to an NGO, the water level is still 16 feet below the spillway while eyewitnesses say that this distance has been reduced to only few feet now.

Local authorities resorted to aerial service to provide food and medicines in Hussain, Gilmat and Pisso areas.

WFP responds:

The World Food Programme (WFP) stated Sunday that it will assist the humanitarian community in transporting relief supplies for Hunza.

Responding to a request made by Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the National Disaster Management Authority, the United Nations World Food Programme has started transporting critical relief supplies. A convey of 16 trucks loaded with various essential items  left for Aza Khel, Nowshera near Peshawar. It was seen off by officials of PRCS, NDMA and WFP.

The convoy contains 12,500 blankets, 1,500 kerosene stoves,5,000 plastic sheets, 2,500 hygiene kits, 2,500 kitchen sets, 2,570jerry cans, 2,500 plastic buckets and 195 water coolers.


Jeffrey Kargel | 12 years ago | Reply Three points: one error correction, and a note of empathy, and a note about the difficult aspects of this dam situation. I am not at the site, and I defer to anybody who is there or gets their news from somebody onsite. However, this news article seems to be a bit erroneous is claiming that this 200 cusecs of discharge represents the breaching of the dam. That breaching will happen very soon, probably a matter of hours to 2 days maximum. What the 200 cusecs represents is seepage through the dam. Seepage has been increasing rapidly in recent days, as one would expect. People will know it when the breaching occurs; this is not it. I am entirely empathetic to the people living in that area, both downstream and upstream and along the lake shores. I read the reader comments of this and other articles, and I understand the frustrations of the people with their government. I cannot, from this distance and as an American, add to or delete from or reinforce or quiet down the criticisms. I understand the source of the anger and frustration. I also understand that the government and NGO's like FOCUS and international aid agencies have been doing a lot. As a scientist, I also would have wished for more information about this situation, and better access to the site. However, I also understand the severe challenge that the government, the residents, the NGOs and all those dealing with this have faced. Difficulty to understand the science and engineering issues of this dam I also recognize that this landslide is intermediate in size and other properties between those that typically fail right away when overtopping occurs and those that persist even semi-stably for centuries. Nobody thinks this landslide will persist for more than some months (VERY IMPROBABLE that it can last into June as any more than a small remnant or widening of the river), and of course it could yield suddenly and catastrophically. We just don't know; it is in a very difficult regime in terms of prediction of behavior. I think that this is fundamentally a source of the government's initial "don't worry, be happy" approach and the more recent serious concern. But I have not seen the government ignoring the problem. The dam material and the spillway was a really difficult one to work with, from all I have seen. It is simply Nature at her most problematic extreme, and sometimes there is no possibility to overcome that, and sometimes it takes a while to figure that out, that prior experience does not prepare you for this particular situation. This is not a defense of the government, not a criticism, it is just a note that this is an extremely troubling situation due to no human's fault, but due to nature. Now I just hope that the uncertainties in scientific and engineering understanding work to the residents' favor, that this thing will drain over a period of days. The seepage situation can be taken to indicate trouble on the dam, or it can be taken to indicate a possibility that 20X increased flow (which will soon be initiated) can be gently increased to allow the dam to drain over a few days. It's just another situation where we lack the needed understanding. To all residents of the lake area, I wish you and friends and family health, well being, and soon a return to your normal lives. I hope this can be.
Akhun Safder Karim | 12 years ago | Reply The absurdity rhetorics of politicians since the inception of calamity and non-seriousness attitude brings out the current disastrous situation in the hunza region. The is another proof of typical government failure in coping the emergency situations. The NDMA should proven to be more proactive rather but waiting for last movement to experiment from disaster and havoc the lake can be, Overall it shows the failure of our Institutions and System in protecting people.I salute the People of Hunza for their courage and self belief and hope we are together in all difficult times.
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