Text and photos by Naveedullah
SHIMSHAL(Gojal), Aug 1: Shimshal, an isolated valley in the northeast of Hunza District has been devastated by floods.
The swollen Shimshal river coupled with flash-floods in streams continue to wreak havoc in the valley as more standing crops, orchards, forests, irrigation channels and roads have been damaged during the last 24 hours.
On Tuesday the swollen river damaged the Passu-Shimshal jeep road at various points stretching 15km from Passu bridge up to Jurjur and Purk Zherekhk, passengers who reached Passu on foot told The High Asia Herald. Due to the massive damage to the road, Shimshal has become cut off from rest of the world. The two main suspension bridges at Shikar Zhoe and Ziyarat are under serious threat, reported by two students Sumera, a national football team member who lives in Lahore and Mansoor another student said. They were among the 13 passengers travelling to Passu in a Toyota Land Cruiser that met an accident but the passengers remained unhurt.
Due to road blockade, students and professionals who had come to the village from down country to spend summer vacations with their families are stranded in the village.Separately, flash floods in Chookurt Dhoor nullah near Khizerabad damaged some seven irrigation channels, which are the main sources of irrigation in the town and its surrounding settlements. As a result of which irrigation and drinking water supply to Khizerabad and the main town has been disrupted. The flood water also entered the main drinking water reservoir.The flood also damaged forests, orchards and standing crops in the low lying area at Yeemkin.
Flood from Zart Ghurben Nullah damaged about 2 acres of land at Ya Lakhsh.
More floods and damages are feared in the days to come if the hot weather continues, the local people said.
On Monday, the swollen river damaged a bridge that was built with the personal grant of a foreigner, Dr Michael, the only bridge linking Shimshal main town with Band Sar, Ya Lakhsh settlements on the northeast, and Ghuzheraf and the main summer pasture known as ‘little Pamir’ at the Shimshal pass where a large number of families currently living with livestock.
They further stated that civil supply department has not provided a single bag of flour to the village for the last two months creating a shortage of food and made a number of households vulnerable to food insecurity.
An emergency-like situation has been evolving in the valley making it almost impossible to transport serious patients to nearby health facilities or down country.
The rescue and relief organizations like Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDM) or Red Crescent Society and Hunza District authorities have not yet taken stock of the situation.
Threats to the village loom as the level of the furious river continues to rise.
It has broken the record of the last 20 years, local people say, who believe attribute the phenomena to the glacial lake outburst, coupled with high temperature prevailing for the last few days causing massive snowmelt.
Earlier on Saturday, a vehicle with 13 passengers on board fell off the road as it caved-in due to erosion beneath. However, the passengers remained safe as a huge boulder cushioned the Land Cruiser Jeep from falling into the river averting a major disaster.
Meanwhile, local leaders of the Awami Workers Party Hunza District (AWP) Ikram Jamal, Akhtar Amin, Akhun Bai, Asif Sakhi, Muhammad Rafi, and Progressive Youth Front activist Nawab Karim, Rehmat Rahim and others have expressed concern over the devastation in Shimshal and demanded of the GB government and the public representatives from the district to take stock of the situation and provide relief and medicines to the stranded population through helicopter. They also demanded compensation to the people for the loss of their crops, forest and houses.
They reminded the government that last year in April avalanches destroyed houses and properties of the people but the government has not yet provided them with compensation. They also demanded the FOCUS Humanitarian Organisation to start helicopter service to the valley to airlift stranded people and patients.–Additional input by Ahsamullah