Pakistan

Panicked Manchhar Lake villagers flee as water level rises


Thousands of villagers near Manchhar Lake on Monday started migrating to safer places including Sehwan, Jamshoro, Kotri, Keenjhar and others amid fears of flooding as water level continued to rise despite the cut was made in the country’s largest lake yesterday.

Authorities are struggling to prevent the country's biggest lake from bursting its banks and inundating nearby towns and villages after unprecedented flooding, as the disaster management agency on Monday raised its toll of flood deaths by another 24.

Those who moved from the lake took shelter in nearby villages located in the Union Council Bobak and Arazi but water has entered both areas.

A local resident of the lake Mustafa Meerani told The Express Tribune that the Indus Highway will also be flooded as the water level was going up gradually. "It's an alarming situation now. Fear prevails amongst villagers," he said.

There was fear among the commuters who wanted to travel to Sehwan, Dhan, Dadu and Kakkar from Hyderabad as the Indus Highway was blocked and flooded.

The water could easily be seen on both sides of the Indus Highway at least 10km before Sehwan.

Read: Better climate planning urged to cut flood risks

On the right side from Hyderabad to Sehwan, the water level of the Indus River has reached near the road inundating villages in the area while on the left all areas have been submerged because of the water coming from Manchhar Lake.

Thousands of people have arrived in Sehwan, the first place of choice for the displaced villagers.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in the country's northern mountains have brought floods that have affected 33 million people and killed at least 1,314, including 458 children, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said.

The floods have followed record-breaking summer temperatures and the government and the United Nations have both blamed climate change for the extreme weather and the devastation it has brought.

Authorities on Sunday breached Manchhar – the country's largest freshwater lake, displacing up to 100,000 people from their homes in the hope of draining enough water to stop the lake from bursting its banks and swamping more densely populated areas.

But water levels in Manchhar Lake, to the west of the Indus river in Sindh, remain dangerously high today.

"The water level at Manchar Lake has not come down," Jam Khan Shoro, the provincial minister for irrigation told Reuters.

He declined to say if another attempt to drain water from the lake would be made.

Read: US Congress delegation visits flood-hit areas

The United Nations has called for $160 million in aid to help the victims of the floods but Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said the cost of the damage was far higher than that.

"The total damage is close to $10 billion, perhaps more," Ismail said in an interview with CNBC earlier. "Clearly it is not enough. In spite of meagre resources Pakistan will have to do much of the heavy lifting."

Nevertheless, help from abroad is arriving. Relief flights from the United Nations and countries including Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates arrived on Monday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

On Sunday, while visiting Manchar Lake, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the authorities concerned felt compelled to take that decision because the strong winds on Saturday night had begun to propel gushing water from the lake across the levees.

“These five UCs [Jaffarabad, Talti, Channa, Aarazi and Bubak] will be taking water,” the chief minister said, referring to the torrents coming from parts of Balochistan and Larkana division, which raised Manchhar to a dangerous level.

There was fear that if the overflowing water was not channelled towards those UCs, Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad would be inundated. The cut in the bank was made, near Bagh Yusuf, after the lake overflowed near Bubak.

Sehwan has a population of around 300,000 souls, while the five UCs combined were estimated to be inhabited by more than 125,000 people. According to an estimate, 50,000 to 60,000 people had already moved out of their homes before Sunday sunset.

PM meets US lawmakers

A delegation of three US lawmakers, who visited the flood-hit areas on Sunday to assess the damage and explore ways of assisting Pakistan in its recovery efforts, met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday, his office said.

Also read: US Congress delegation visits flood-hit areas

PM Shehbaz told the lawmakers that given the challenges and enormous resources involved in the reconstruction efforts, "continued support, solidarity and assistance from the international community were critical," the office said.

The aid kept pouring in with the foreign ministry reporting arrivals of relief flights on Monday from the United Nations and individual countries, including Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The relief effort is a huge burden for an economy already needing help from the International Monetary Fund.

(With additional input from Reuters)


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker