Tuesday 16 July 2013

Two workers killed in landslide near Attabad Lake, Gilgit-Baltistan.

Two men working on a road-building project near Attabad Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan in the Pakistan Himalayas have been killed by a landslide, reportedly triggered by blasting of the hillside. One of the victims has been identified as a local man, Zohaib Nazeer, the other is understood to be a Chinese engineer. The two men were working on a project to build a replacement section of the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan to China, part of which was submerged by the formation of the Attabad Lake on 4 January 2010, by another massive landslide which blocked the Hunza River. The formation of the lake killed 25 people, submerged 19 km of the Karakoram Highway, displaced 6000 people and cut of supply routes to another 25 000. The loss of the supply route, as well as several villages and a significant amount of farmland on the valley floor, has led to considerable hardship in the Gojal Valley, in turn leading to protests and demands for compensation from the Government of Pakistan.

Villagers from the Gojal Valley surveying the scene of the Attabad landslide on 5 January 2010. Zulfiqar Ali Khan/Pamir Times.

The road building project has suffered a string of such incidents, caused by repeated landslides in the valley. Like other areas of the Himalayas, Gilgit-Baltistan has suffered extensive flooding since June 2013, though this has been caused not so much be heavy-rainfall in the area as by high temperature leading to increased runoff from melting glaciers. Landslides are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. In 2010 and 2011 the region also saw extensive flooding due to melting glaciers.

Funeral service for victims of the Attabad landslide on 6 January 2013. Zulfiqar Ali Khan/Pamir Times.

Secondary landslide at Attabad Lake on 22 January 2010. Inayat Ali/Pamir Times.

View of the landslide dam and part of the remains of Attabad Village. 1 February 2010. Zulfiqar Ali Khan/Pamir Times.

Good from China being ferried across Attabad Lake to Pakistan, 11 March 2010. Shabbir Ahmed Mir/AP.

An areal view of the newly formed Attabad Lake in May 2010. Shabbir Hussain Imam/AP.

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