Pakistan awaits natural lake burst in Hunza Valley

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Islamabad, May 25 (ANI): Pakistan is awaiting the burst of a natural lake created after the landslide, as thousands of people are stranded in the scenic Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, while hundreds of others located in lower areas anxiously hope that they won't be affected by the possible flood.

Over 1,800 people have already been forced to flee their homes after floods swept through Ayeenabad and Shishkat villages in Hunza, some 750 kilometres north of Islamabad.

The authorities have declared a 'high alert' in Hunza and the entrance to the 32 villages, already vacated, has been prohibited.

The crisis is likely to spread more areas, as at least 2,000 families migrated from Bartram, a town situated on the bank of river Indus, on Monday.

The lake was created out of the Hunza River by a landslide on January 4 that killed 20 and left more than 25,000 people stranded when the river was blocked.

The National Disaster Management Authority has identified at least 36 villages in the Huns valley for evacuation in case the water burst.

About 22 areas have been marked in Diamir District which also has been declared a Red Zone.

A part of the Karakorum Highway, the road link between China and Pakistan, has already been closed. The government expects a long time closure of the highway if the lake bursts.

The leakage of water in a spill way created to reduce the chances of the burst got the level of the lake bit down on Monday, but officials still fear an outburst.

Experts believe the water is expected to rise further in the coming days because of rain and melting glaciers.

"Water is expected to reach the spill way from 26 kilometers- long lake on Thursday and then overflowing will begin," Asif Bilal Lodhi, a local NDMA official said.

He said nine relief centres have so far been set up in the area where medicines and food items have been stocked. They have also installed warning sirens linked to a control room in Gilgit, the nearest large town.

Another official of NDMA in Hunza said that the water level has reached ten feet in the lake and can touch the dangerous point of fourteen feet any time in coming days.

"The inflow at the lake was 2,600 cusecs and outflow was 200 cusecs, the lake is still spreading," he said.

The government has also started a chopper service to rescue people, but general public is still worried about their future.

Responding to an urgent request made by Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the National Disaster Management Authority, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started transporting critical relief supplies to the affected people of Hunza.

"A convoy of 16 trucks loaded with some 12,500 blankets, 1,500 kerosene stoves, 5,000 plastic sheets, 2,500 hygiene kits, 2,500 kitchen sets, 2,570 jerry cans, 2,500 plastic buckets and 195 water coolers left from Azakhel, Nowshera, near Peshawar," said an announcement.

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said on Sunday that the administration was alert round the clock and all arrangements to meet the challenge had been finalized.

"Gilgit had been divided into two sectors and every possible facility would be provided to the affected people," he said. By Mir Mohammad (ANI)

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