Pakistan – Officials Warn of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has issued a warning of heavy rain over the next 72 hours that could result in flash floods and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) in the provinces of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  PMD says that the Bagrot, Bindogol and Golain valleys and their surroundings are particularly at risk.

Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

Glacial Lake Outburst Floods occur when the ice dam containing a glacial lake fails. Such floods pose an increasing threat to mountainous regions in northern Pakistan.

At least 3 people were killed and over 300,000 people stranded in Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood in July last year.

In a statement made in July 2015, Pakistan Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, expressed serious concern over the flood threat posed by Pakistan’s melting glaciers.

“If melting of glaciers in the country’s north, which are vital to sustainability of country’s agro-based economy, picks up pace then water flow in rivers will increase and can lead to devastating floods in the coming years,” he warned.

In August last year, a comprehensive study from the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) claimed that tens of thousands of the world’s glaciers are melting faster than ever.

Over 250 Killed by Floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Since March

The Provincial Disasters Management Authority (PDMA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently reported that torrential rains and flash floods have killed 46 people and injured 25 others in various incidents in the province since the beginning of July, 2016.

Most of the casualties occurred in Chitral district where 29 people including 21 civilians and eight security personnel died and four others injured due to flash floods caused by heavy torrential rains on 02 July, 2016. Other flood deaths were reported in Mardan (4), Kohat (7), Manshera (3) and Malakand (2).

A further report from PDMA reveals that between March and July this year, floods have killed at least 261 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Over 200 have been injured and 1,101 houses completely destroyed or washed away, with thousands more partially damaged. Many of the deaths occurred in April, after severe floods and landslide struck in the state.