Artificial lake burst triggers flash floods in Kargil; evacuation still on

On Dec 31, 2014 Phuktal suffered a blockade by a massive 200 feet high landslide dam, leading to the creation of an artificial lake extending more than 10 km.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar | Updated: May 7, 2015 7:08 pm
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THE artificial lake formed on river Phuktal in Zanskar breached in the morning washing away dozens of bridges, schools and residential houses. The people, however, reacted promptly and moved towards the safer places before the flash floods.

The district administration and officials are constantly keeping close watch on the flow of the river as it heads downstream towards Leh.

Officials said that dozens of villages have been affected by the sudden discharge of water. “The water breached at 8 am in the morning and affected a large portion of the areas and villages,’’ Mohammad Haneefa Jan, Chief Executive Councilor, LAHDC, Kargil told The Indian Express.

He said that Deputy Commissioner and SSP Kargil held an aerial survey of the area where it breached. “The good news is that no loss of life has been reported so far.’’

Sub Divisional Magistrate, Zanskar, Rajesh Kumar Basotra said the level of water was around 20- 25 feet or more near Padam. “Now the water has started receding that is a good sign. In the upper reaches, the level of water is still high.’’

Basotra said that 40 – 50 families living on the banks of the Phutkal river had been evacuated to safer places early in the morning. “We have formed special teams comprising army, police and the locals to keep watch on the discharge of the water as it heads towards the lower regions of Zanskar Valley,’’ he said.

Basotra said that National Disaster Management Authority teams had visited the areas and also surveyed the glacier. “The army on the instruction of NDMA had even had created a small channel in the river to flush out the water. So far the water was flowing slowly, but, today it breached, causing flash floods.’’

Last month, the Army had claimed to have cleared the blockade of the river by creating a channel through the landslide area that facilitated the flow of water downstream.

A massive landslide had created a 15-km-long artificial lake on Phuktal, a major tributary of Zanskar river, at an altitude of 13,000 ft nearly 100 km east of Padam in January. The landslide caused complete blockage of water, resulting in the accumulation of more than 30 million cubic meters of water. This had led to apprehensions that a sudden bursting of the lake could cause a catastrophe. The National Crisis Management Committee had declared the situation a “national crisis” in February and had constituted an expert committee under the NDMA for technical assessment and to prepare an action plan to avert the crisis.

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