Glacial outburst sweeps away two bridges in Chitral's Garam Chashma area

Published June 30, 2022
A still of the glacial lake outburst flood crashing through a wooden suspension bridge on Thursday.—DawnNewsTV
A still of the glacial lake outburst flood crashing through a wooden suspension bridge on Thursday.—DawnNewsTV

Two suspension bridges near the Arkari village in the Garam Chashma area of Chitral were swept away by a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) on Thursday.

GLOFs are sudden events, which can release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, leading to loss of lives, property and livelihoods among remote and impoverished mountain communities.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed the development, adding that teams have been dispatched to the area to help locals who used the bridges to cross a storm drain flowing underneath.

Footage aired on Dawn News TV showed fast-flowing flood waters tearing through one of the bridges.

Chitral PDMA focal person Rasheed Khan told Dawn.com that so far no loss of life or damage to any other infrastructure has been reported. The floods, however, damaged wheat and other fruit crops in the area, he added.

The PDMA, Khan went on, has been in constant contact with the district administration and was monitoring the situation in the area.

Separately, in a statement, PDMA DG Sharif Hussain said that the control room in the area is fully operational. "Residents can call on our helpline 1700 in case of any emergency or untoward incident," he added.

Last month, a similar incident took place when Hassanabad bridge on the Karakoram Highway in Hunza was destroyed and swept away in a GLOF event. Authorities had said that the glacier melted because of intense heat.

In April, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman had cautioned that due to an increase in regional temperatures, there was a possibility of glacial lake outburst flood events and flash floods in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In an advisory note, the ministry had issued an official warning to the organisations concerned, drawing their attention to the possible occurrence of GLOF and flash floods in the GB and KP regions, with the direction to take precautionary actions in an effective and timely manner to prevent any losses.

Heavy rains predicted in KP

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Meteorological Department forecast heavy monsoon rains in the province from yesterday. The showers are expected to last till the first week of July.

The Met Office said moist currents from Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal were likely to enter the upper parts of Pakistan which may intensify and expand to southern parts of the country by the end of this week.

Under the influence of this system, rain-windstorm/thundershower is expected in Mansehra, Kohistan, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Battagram, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Orakzai, Kurram, Mohmand, and Bajaur.

The authorities have been instructed to take all precautionary measures and remain vigilant as heavy rains could trigger flash floods and landslides. The department has also advised tourists to stay "extra-cautious" during their journey and avoid unnecessary travel.

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