A concrete bridge on the Karakoram Highway in Hunza’s Hassanabad district collapsed on Saturday, causing traffic congestion and forcing passengers to find another route.
Following the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) from the Shishper Glacier, a food, petrol, and water crisis is looming in Hassanabad village, leading Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to request a report and ask officials to take immediate measures.
The PM issued a statement on Sunday ordering officials to guarantee that individuals are relocated to safe areas, and that food and other necessities are provided. He’s also ordered officials to put the two 700MW and 250MW power plants back on “war footings.”
The GLOF started when the glacial lake formed over the Shisper glacier began to recede 8,000 cusecs of water, causing the glacier to melt faster than expected.
Due to the heavy flooding that cut Gilgit and Hunza off, the KKH bridge was damaged. Aside from that, the incident has harmed Hassanabad and Aliabad’s water supply systems. On the SAS Valley Road, authorities have provided an alternate route for small cars only.
Officials claim that the local population is not at risk. Still, a food, water, and gasoline crisis is looming in the area that connects Gilgit city to other valleys in the mountainous terrain. Residences, orchards, power plants, and fibre optic cables have all been affected in the vicinity.
The bridge collapse has also impacted the surrounding areas of Murtazaabad, Hyderabad, and Aliabad, with residents complaining about increased vegetable prices.
Qamar Zaman Kaira, the Adviser on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, has urged officials to act on a “war footing” to restore road connection and normalcy.
“At least 52 homes and the KKH from some points have been damaged because of the flow of 8,000 cusecs of water,” GB Chief Secretay Muhiuddin Wani said.
The Hunza Deputy Commissioner, Abdul Wahab, said that preparations were being made to ensure that food, medical services, and fuel were available.
The lake outburst damaged property by breaking the intake points of the water storage and causing erosion. Experts have long warned of the dangers that climate change poses to Gilgit-Baltistan, pointing out that similar catastrophes have occurred in the past.
Due to blockage, tourists are stranded. On Saturday, at least 15 tourists, including foreigners, were injured while riding a roller coaster.
The Hassanabad bridge in Hunza connects lower Hunza to upper Hunza, which finishes at the China border – Khunjerab Pass – making it crucial for the country’s mobility.
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman stated that the FWO would have a temporary bridge up and running in 48 hours.
“Pakistan has the highest number of glaciers outside the polar region, and many are losing mass due to high global temperatures. We need global leaders to reduce emissions, walk the talk,” she said in a tweet.