Under The Blue Waters
Thousands of tourists visit the lake every year, mainly to enjoy boating, skiing and fishing. They also enjoy other recreational activities, apart from getting themselves immersed in the deep blue waters of the lake. Some of them spend their entire day just by looking at the lake, as the nature is so fascinating there…
However, the tourists have no idea that a terrible catastrophe had been there behind the creation of this lake! Thousands of people lost their lives when the Attabad Lake was formed due to a massive landslide at Attabad Village in Hunza Valley in Pakistan ‘s Gilgit-Baltistan Province on January 4, 2010. The landslide had also blocked the flow of the Hunza River for five months!
There was no lake in the Hunza Valley a decade ago. Local children used to take the hilly routes to reach schools, while people, who drove vehicles, enjoyed their rides through the highway situated at the bottom of the Karakoram Mountains. Sometimes, they used to take rest on the bank of Hunza River. However, the landslide changed everything in January 2010, as it destroyed the villages in the valley in five minutes. Nearly 170 houses and 120 shops in Attabad Village, at an altitude of 2,559 metres, vanished after the disaster. The Government of Pakistan mentioned in a report that the flooding, triggered by the landslide, had displaced 6,000 people from upstream villages, stranded from land transportation routes, a further 25,000, and inundated over 19km of the Karakoram Highway…
Mother Nature had remained silent for nearly five months after the devastating landslide. Those, who survived, tried to settle there again slowly during that period. The villagers failed to realise that they would have to face a new crisis! The water levels of the Hunza River continued to rise because of the difference in the outflow and inflow of the new lake, and the supply of food, medicine and other goods had stopped on June 18 (2010). As a result of the harnessing of Hunza River due to the landslide, massive floods destroyed another four villages – Ayeenabad, Shishkat, Gulmit and Gulkin – and also affected the entire population! Homes, shops, schools, hotels, factories were completely submerged in the Hunza Valley, while more than 6,500 people became homeless!
The Hunza River
The situation was so horrible that the Government of Pakistan was unable to send aid in the affected areas. The Dawn had reported that as bad weather continued, the supply of food, medicine and other goods became scarce. The Government also failed to resume all forms of transportation, including helicopter service, to Hunza because of the poor weather condition. It became really difficult for the Pakistani soldiers to reach the Valley as the landslide destroyed six bridges in the region.
In this way, the 21km-long Attabad Lake, with a maximum depth of 109mt and a water volume of 330,000 acre feet, was created in 2010. Slowly, the people of Pakistan forgot about the catastrophe. Now, tourists enjoy the beauty of the lake that has absorbed the memory of tiny hilly villages.
Maybe, one could find those memories beneath the Attabad waters…
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