Home > General > Monster slide in Pakistan’s Hunza Valley leaves tens of thousands winter-stranded

Monster slide in Pakistan’s Hunza Valley leaves tens of thousands winter-stranded

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

As rescuers race to find survivors in Haiti, Simone Moro alerts about a natural disaster that passed largely un-noticed by media last week: a massive landslide swept four villages in Pakistan’s Hunza Valley, dammed up the Hunza river with a severe risk of flooding, cut off parts of KKH and left tens of thousands to survive the winter without supplies.

Attabad village reportedly took the worst hit. “About 40 homes, with dozens of people in them, were swept down into the fast-flowing Hunza River,” Sultan Khan from Nazir Sabir’s outfit told Simone Moro.

“Some 1,500 people were forced out of their homes from the nearby villages after the disaster had shaken homes with huge cracks underneath, and damaged the entire area. Authorities have declared state of emergency but four days after the tragedy hopes of finding survivors are fading.”

“The monstrous mountain slide has completely blocked the Hunza River, creating an artificial dam. Debris splashing across the river has also damaged a two-kilometre stretch of the Karakoram Highway – leaving Gojal area (Hunza’s northern side) completely isolated by land,” Sultan Khan said.

“Over 22,000 people in the far flung villages of Hunza are running out of rations and are at the mercy of airlifted food supplies, medicines and other materials till the KKH is reopened – which is likely to take over six months at least.”

“Yet there is a greater danger to the nearby villages and downstream areas if the blocked river dam bursts triggering flooding.”

Urgent help needed

“This is the worst catastrophe experienced in the Hunza Valley or anywhere in Gilgit Baltistan in recent history,” Sultan wrote.

“We have been informed that there is an acute shortage of blankets, beds, tents medicines and food supplies for the survivors. The bigger challenge at the moment is of food, fuel medicines and other supplies for those 22 000 people of upper Hunza (Gojal) stranded beyond the blockade who are indirect sufferers and are going to be cut off from the rest of the country for many months to come.”

“Mr. Nazir Sabir is away to Hunza, checking the situation himself and coordinating relief efforts. Government agencies, Aga Khan Foundation, Focus and few other NGOs are in action already and we are accessing the situation further.”

Update from the Aga Khan Foundation

The Aga Khan Development Network updated yesterday: ”Attabad Payeen, Attabad Bala, Sarat and Ayeenabad were directly affected by the massive landslide in Hunza valley, which killed thirteen people and injured nine others. Six people are still reported missing.”

“We are still trying to get to 20,000 people cut off from the rest f Hunza region after the KKH was blocked,” a SART volunteer on the spot reported. “Unfortunately if we don’t, soon, food and other supplies will run short. This is also winter time in the region, so families living without shelter and heating are even more vulnerable.”

“Other villages, Ahmadabad and Ayeenabad, have been evacuated given the threat of water build-up or dam breakage in the area.”

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