Army plays down risk of flooding to villages

Army plays down risk of flooding to villages

13 May 2010
The Dawn


RAWALPINDI: Pakistan's army said Thursday it had taken every possible step to prevent an artificial lake from bursting its banks but acknowledged that up to 36 villages would be affected by flooding. A massive landslide created a lake on January 4 that killed 20 and left about 25,000 people stranded when Hunza river was blocked. 'I can say with certain amount of certainty that this dam will not burst as we have reduced the hazard by creating a 350-metre (1,149-feet) long, 60-metre (197-foot) wide spillway,' Engineer-in-Chief Lt General Shahid Niaz said. Niaz told reporters in Rawalpindi that water would start draining into the spillway between May 20-30, well before the lake could ever burst its banks. But he acknowledged those living downstream could be at risk. 'The water will damage inhabitants living downstream to some extent,' Niaz said. 'Some 30 to 36 villages will be affected by the water.' Local officials have said possible disaster also threatens the popular tourist resort of Gulmit on the main Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China, part of which has already closed. They said 1,700 people have been forced to flee their homes after floods swept through Ayeenabad and Shishkat villages in the district of Hunza, wiping out dozens of houses. Local authorities have set up nine relief centres where medicines and food items are being stockpiled for people who could be uprooted. They have also installed warning sirens linked to a control room in Gilgit, the nearest large town. AFP Tags pakistan army


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