October 4, 2022

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Pakistan’s Manchar Lake erupts on its banks as floods worsen

Pakistan's Manchar Lake erupts on its banks as floods worsen


SEVAN, Pakistan – The retaining wall of Pakistan’s largest lake exploded on Tuesday after months of torrential rains, It floods hundreds of other villages downstream and threatens to force thousands more from their homes.

The Pakistani government engineered two deliberate breaches of the Manshar Lake retaining wall over the weekend in an effort to relieve pressure on the structure, but an irrigation official told the Washington Post that the wall began to crack on Tuesday as water levels continued to rise.

A local official at the Department of Agriculture confirmed a fracture but said it was not clear if it was caused by water pressure or if residents of a nearby town had damaged the wall to divert floodwaters from their area.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“It is not possible to repair the wall now,” the irrigation official said. He said the government was unable to protect villages in the flood path, and estimated that families would have four to five hours to evacuate.

‘Nobody cares about us’: Pakistanis struggle to survive after floods

Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shurro confirmed to The Post that the new breach in the flood wall had taken place, but emphasized that no further evacuations would be needed as all downstream settlements had already been emptied.

The Pakistani government is already struggling to respond to what has been described as a “catastrophic” crisis, and the breach of Lake Manchar is likely to further impede access to those in need. Anger is growing among displaced Pakistanis, hundreds of villages are still under water, and people who have made it to dry land Desperately looking for shelter and rest.

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Water from the lake can be seen flowing onto highways and overflowing drainage channels just north of Sihwan, threatening to cut off a major supply route to some of the country’s worst-hit villages in Dadu and beyond. Farmers lined the roads leading to the south, taking their livestock to safety.

Mohammad Nawaz Shahani said government vehicles drove through his village on Tuesday morning using loudspeakers to order an immediate evacuation. He said, “They told us to leave our homes at once and to take our valuables and livestock with us.” He walked with his extended family up a high road and then began grazing his cattle in search of a place to graze.

By evening, the highway was full of buffaloes, goats, and cows. About 350 villages around the lake were inundated on Tuesday, sending the water level up to six feet, according to the irrigation official.

He said the floodwaters continued to rise into the night, but many families refused to leave their homes.

Unprecedented floods in Pakistan have killed more than 1,300 people and affected nearly 33 million since they began in June. Government relief efforts are overburdened, although international aid and supplies have begun to enter the country.

The United States, the European Union and Britain pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Pakistan last week. The United Nations has launched an emergency plan to provide assistance, but as waters continue to sweep across the country, areas most in need are increasingly inaccessible.

“This is a mountain of human suffering and a roadmap for never-ending tragedy,” said US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex) on a recent visit to the country to survey the damage and discuss with Pakistani authorities what the US aid money will be. spend.

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“You have people who have lost their livelihoods, and a country that has already lost its land,” she said, referring to the millions of acres of crops that are now in ruins.

“It is our intention that this money will go directly to the people,” she said, adding that Pakistani officials have expressed the same commitment. “We’re going to have to stick to their word,” Jackson Lee added.

The agricultural official said the Pakistani government must move quickly to divert water leaking from Lake Manchar to keep roads open and prevent a massive exodus. He said additional controlled holes must be dug along the lake and more canals created to prevent the displacement of more than 100,000 people.

Trucks carrying huge boulders lined up along the main highway in Sihuan – just a few kilometers from the lake’s edge – to build a new retaining wall on Tuesday.

To the north, water inundated one of two highways running through the town of Dadu, where thousands who have already fled their villages are seeking asylum, according to Irfan Ali Samo, a senior police official there.

Sammo said the city, which is now on high alert, is almost surrounded by water. He doesn’t know what the latest water levels are, “but they are certainly high enough to worry about.”

Shaiq Hussain from Islamabad, Pakistan contributed to this report.