25 January 2010

Continuing concerns about the landslide dam at Attabad in Hunza, Pakistan

Posted by Dave Petley

The Pamir Times continues to provide excellent coverage of the state of the landslide dam at Attabad in Hunza, N. Pakistan (see earlier posts here, here, here and here). First, they have posted another remarkable image of the landslide in action:

Second they have provided various reports on the state of the efforts to mitigate the rising water level and to reopen the highway. It is clear that the road remains blocked, which must be creating incredible hardship in the valley upstream of the slide. It appears that the Chinese engineers who are planning to reopen the road have only just arrived on site. Promisingly, the report states that another group of Chinese engineers have arrived to attempt to drain the lake, presumably working with the Pakistan Army. One can only hope that these are the same group that performed extraordinary Tangjiashan barrier lake drainage operation.

The magnitude of the task is well-illustrated by this report, also from the Pamir Times. The lake is now 8.9 metres long and is filling at a rate of about 3.6 feet (1.1 metres) per day. The Pakistan Army has promised to release the water within 45 days. The images show the nature of the problem even more clearly. This image, taken from a helicopter, shows the landslide dam deposit:

It is clear that the the lake is now rising quite rapidly towards the natural spillway. This image shows the size of the lake itself:

It is clear that the water is now starting to encroach onto farmland in a serious way. Finally, this image shows the state of the lake on the ground: