Glacial lake forms in Gilgit-Baltistan, evoking memories of Attabad

Glacial lake forms in Gilgit-Baltistan, evoking memories of Attabad

ISLAMABAD: A woman and her daughter have gone missing after a glacial lake outburst flood in Gilgit-Baltistan washed away 12 houses.

A large part of a glacier fell into the Karumbar River, blocking its flow and forming a lake. The formation of the lake has brought back memories of 2010 for the locals when climate change induced a massive mountain landslide into the Hunza River, creating the Attabad Lake. The crumbling mountain swept along hundreds of Gilgit-Baltistan villages, which were submerged into the Hunza River. The incident left over 1,000 people displaced.

Eight years later, a glacial lake outburst flood in the Budswat Valley of Ghizer’s Ishkoman tehsil has blocked the flow of the Karumbar River, forming a lake. Twelve houses have been submerged and a stretch of the road has been destroyed. The Karumbar River has started overflowing again, but the stored water looks like a lake, drawing comparisons with the Attabad Lake.

Pamir Times, a local news organisation, reported that the lake is two kilometres long at the moment and has swept along over 24 houses, a Hiace vehicle and 12 motorcycles away.

Efforts to send aid to the affected region are hindered by the destruction of the road. The lives of the people living in the downstream villages are under threat as there are fears of a potential flood if the lake’s barrier breaks.

The artificial lake formed on the Karumbar River and the subsequent flooding have damaged around 5km of road near the Bilhanz area of Ishkoman. The blockade has cut off around 180 households from the lower part of Ishkoman.

The glacier surge and blockade of the Karumbar River near Budswat has directly affected up to 24 households. Locals were evacuated by the local Community Emergency Response Team and officials of the district administration.

The bodies of the woman and her daughter who were swept along with the floods have yet to be found.

On July 18, the FCNA commander dispatched a team of engineers to the area to ascertain the amount of damage incurred. They are reviewing the situation along with the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority and district administration. On July 19, the engineers reviewed the area with the Gilgit-Baltistan interior secretary on a helicopter. According to them, the situation is under control. They said that the water level of the lake will recede in four to five days, after which contact with the area will be resumed. APP