36 villages at flood risk, if Hunza lake overruns

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Around 36 villages are at flood risk if the landslide-triggered Atabad lake overruns. The rising water level at the lake has posed threat of outflow from the under construction spillway. Atleast 36 villages situated from Hunza and Gilgit may possibly be affected with the overspill, a private news channel said while quoting local administration Tuesday.
Gilgit’s Home Secretary, Asif Bilal Lodhi and the Speaker of the Legislature Wazir Baig said Atabad Lake may pour out. “The outpouring poses threat to at least 36 villages; however all necessary arrangements have been completed to cope with the situation,” they said.
Home Secretary said low-lying areas between Hunza and Gilgit would be evacuated, adding essential commodities including food and medicines would be dispatched in the next five days to the areas affected by the flood. He said the edibles would be stacked up for the next two months.
Lodhi said large flood wave caused by the rising water level at the lake, may harm eight bridges at Karakoram Highway from Hunza to Gilgit.
At least 24 hours after the flood, the passage to the affected areas would be restored by installing emergency bridges. The water has reached Gulmit, the largest town in Gojal sub-district of Hunza-Nagar District.
“The situation is quite serious. About 13,000 people in the affected area face displacement,” said Noor Muhammad, of the NGO Focus Humanitarian Assistance, which has been monitoring the situation in Hunza. He said people had been moving away. “People need to be relocated to safe areas. Nine sites including government schools and other buildings, had been identified for housing people, he added.
The lake is 21 km long and 350 metres wide. Water is pouring into it at the rate of 2,500 cubic metres per day. The lake does not have an appropriate spillway, so there is a risk it could suddenly burst its banks.
Frontier Works Organization has been attempting since January to create a spillway, but is now likely to stop work due to rising water levels in the lake and the threat of flooding.
The January 4 landslide caused at least 13 deaths and blocked the river in the Atabad area. The lake that formed cut road links to Gojal, resulting in food shortages there.

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