QUETTA, Feb 11: The death toll in the Shadi Kaur Dam disaster and flash flood caused by hill torrents in Pasni and the adjoining areas of Balochistan rose to 70 on Friday and hundreds of people of villages inundated by the dam reported missing. Army and Navy personnel carrying out rescue and relief work in the area claimed to have saved about 1,500 lives.
According to reports reaching here, parts of the Pasni township and many adjoining villages were still under water and rescue teams have moved several thousand people to safe places.
Another major reservoir in the district of Gwadar, 'Akra Kaur' which supplies drinking water to the Gwadar township is overflowing with its water level at three inches above the danger level.
The authorities are keeping a close watch on the dam to avert a Shadi Kaur Dam type disaster. Most of the people living along the Akra Kaur dam have been moved to higher places, sources said.
The Provincial Minister for Tourism and Gwadar Development Authority, Syed Sher Jan Baloch, confirmed that torrential rain in Pasni and adjoining areas had caused 70 death. A large number of people in different areas of Makran were reported missing.
Speaking at a press conference at the crisis control management cell office here on Friday night, he said that thousands of people had been rendered homeless with about two dozen villages washed away by the dam water.
"Five villages of over 5,500 people are still under water," Syed Sher Jan who represents the Gwadar district in the Balochistan Assembly, said, adding that three to four feet of flood water was standing in the five wards of Pasni township. Dozens of houses in the area have collapsed.
The Shadi Kaur dam was built by simply blocking the passage of floodwater, without proper spillways and fuses to protect the dam. It is the region's major river and, according to historians, it devastated the huge army of Alexander the Great after flash floods.
The minister said that jawans of the Pakistan army, navy, coast guards and Frontier Corps rescued 500 people from the badly affected villages and moved them to safe places.
He said that hundreds of people in adjoining districts and townships, including Ormara, Bela, Khuzdar, Awaran and Turbat, were still missing. He confirmed that about 120 kilometres of the coastal highway had been extensively damaged between Ormara and Pasni.
"Many bridges were washed away by the floods and torrential rains," he added. There are reports of breaches in many 'bundats' (earthen dams built by the community without any assistance from the government).
Heavy rainfall continued in the catchment areas of all major rivers, Balochistan-Kech, Nihing, Basol and Shadi Kaur, and other seasonal rivers causing flooding.
The minister said that two C-130 planes would take relief goods, including tents, blankets, cloths and foodstuff for the affected people. He said that Chief Minister Jam Yousuf would visit Pasni and other affected areas of Balochistan on Saturday.
The minister said that around 3,000 army personnel and 1,000 FC men were taking part in the relief operation. The federal government has assured all possible help to the Balochistan government for rehabilitation of the flood affected people of Makran.
Provincial Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani undertook an aerial visit of the coastal region to assess the extent of damage. He said that a few hundred homes were under water in the Pasni township.
However, the main airport and its huge runway meant for wide-bodied aircraft were safe, but other parts were under water, the governor told newsmen on his return from Pasni.
He confirmed the death of 21 people who were in a bus which was swept away by a torrent between Turbat and Pasni. He announced that a probe would be conducted into the Shadi Kaur disaster and those found negligent or guilty would be punished.
The governor said that relief work was in progress and affected people were being moved to safe areas. The governor said that medical teams of the armed forces and the provincial government were helping the people in the affected areas.
Replying to a question, the governor said that the Akra Kaur dam was full but safe and the extra water was flowing from the spillway. "There is no danger to the dam," he added.