A view of a bridge damaged in the glacial lake outburst flood in Golen valley, Chitral. — Dawn
A view of a bridge damaged in the glacial lake outburst flood in Golen valley, Chitral. — Dawn

CHITRAL: A glacial lake outburst flood (Glof) in Golen valley near Chitral city swept away four suspension bridges, a small hydropower station, a road, a mosque, 18 houses, maize crops and orchards on Monday morning.

However, no damage to public life was reported as the residents moved to safe places at higher altitudes due to the early warning system.

More than 2,000 members of 500 families got stuck on the boundaries of the narrow valley due to the road and bridge destruction.

Additional deputy commissioner of Lower Chitral district Hayat Shah told Dawn that no one could enter or leave the valley as it was disconnected from the rest of the district.

No damage to public life as residents moved to safe places earlier

He said the administration had stocked up necessary food items and emergency drugs in the valley’s central area.

Mr Shah said an attempt would be made to approach the valley after the level of floodwater reduced.

He said the experts had forecast more glacial lake explosions in two days.

The official said the valley could be reached by helicopter only, so the administration had requested the provincial government for it to shift patients or injured people from the valley in case of emergency.

Manzoor Ahmad, a local official of the Met Office, said the valley’s highland was home to 10 glaciers, which were hypersensitive and were on the verge of explosion due to rising temperatures.

He said a team of experts from a UNDP-funded Glof project and Met Office visited the highland last month and alerted the administration to the possibility of lake explosions.

“The explosion is being anticipated due to abnormal rise in temperatures in the last couple of days,” he said.

The Glof also destroyed the headwork of the power channel of the 108MW Golen Gol power station leading to its closure.

The pipelines carrying water both for drinking and irrigation purposes from the valley were destroyed in Mori Payeen, Barghuzi and Kuju villages.

Special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs Wazir Zada reached the Mashelik area near Koghuzi valley along with officials of the administration and relevant departments.

He ordered infrastructure rehabilitation on an emergency basis.

The chief minister’s aide said the immediate needs of the calamity-hit areas were being assessed and the government’s help would be sought accordingly.

He said safety of the people stuck in the valley had been prioritised.

Mr Wazir Zada said the administration was making arrangements to shift the valley’s residents to the Government High School Kaghuzi’s building.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2020

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