Pakistan’s Lake Manchar has burst its banks as a result of intensification of floods

Pakistan's Lake Manchar has burst its banks as a result of intensification of floods
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SEHWAN, Pakistan – The retaining wall of Pakistan’s largest lake collapsed on Tuesday after months of torrential rains. hundreds more villages are inundated and thousands more are at risk of being displaced.

The Pakistani government intentionally breached Lake Manchar’s retaining wall twice over the weekend, but the wall began to crack Tuesday as water levels continued to rise, an irrigation official told The Washington Post.

A local Department of Agriculture official confirmed the break, but said it was unclear whether it was caused by water pressure or whether residents of a nearby town damaged the wall to divert floodwaters away from their property.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

“It is impossible to repair the wall now,” said the irrigator. He said the government was unable to protect villages in the flood’s path and estimated families would have four to five hours to evacuate.

‘No one cares about us’: Pakistanis struggle to survive after floods

Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro confirmed to The Post that there had been a new breach in the flood wall, but said no further evacuations would be needed as all settlements downstream had already been evacuated.

The Pakistani government is already struggling to respond to what has been described as a “catastrophic” crisis, and the breach of Lake Manchar is likely to prevent access to those in need. Anger is growing among displaced Pakistanis, with hundreds of villages flooded and people stranded desperately seeking shelter and relief.

Water from the lake can be seen flowing over highways and overflowing drainage canals north of Sehwa, threatening to cut off the main supply route to Dadu and some of the country’s worst-hit villages beyond. The roads to the south were full of farmers leading their cattle to safety.

Mohammad Nawaz Shahani said government vehicles drove through his village on Tuesday morning using loudspeakers to order an immediate evacuation. “We were told to leave our house immediately, to take only our valuables and livestock. He took a high road with his extended family and then began to drive his cattle in search of pasture.

By evening, the highway was full of buffaloes, goats and cows. According to an irrigation official, about 350 villages around the lake were inundated on Tuesday and the water level reached six feet.

According to him, the flood waters continued to rise until the night, but many families refused to leave their homes.

Since June, unprecedented floods in Pakistan have killed more than 1,300 people and affected 33 million people. Although international aid and supplies are beginning to flow into the country, the government’s relief efforts are overwhelming.

The United States, the European Union and Britain have pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Pakistan in the past week. And the United Nations launched an emergency plan to deliver aid, but as the waters continue to sweep across the country, the areas most in need are increasingly out of reach.

“This is a mountain of human suffering and a road map of unending tragedy,” said the US representative. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) recently visited the country to survey the damage and discuss with Pakistani authorities how to spend US aid money.

“There are people who have lost their livelihoods and a country that has really lost its homeland,” he said, referring to the millions of hectares of farmland now destroyed.

“Our aim is to ensure that these funds go directly to the people,” he said, adding that Pakistani officials expressed the same commitment. Jackson Lee added: “We will have to take them at their word.”

An agriculture official said the Pakistani government must move quickly to divert water from Lake Manchar to keep roads open and prevent a wave of mass displacement. He said additional controlled breaches should be dug and more canals built across the lake to prevent the displacement of more than 100,000 people.

Trucks carrying huge stones were lined up along Shehwan’s main highway – a few kilometers from the lake’s edge – on Tuesday to build a new retaining wall.

Further north, water flooded one of two highways through Dadu town, where thousands of people who have already fled their villages are seeking shelter, according to Irfan Ali Samo, a senior police official there.

Samo said that the city, which is currently on high alert, is almost surrounded by water. He doesn’t know what the latest water levels are, “but they’re high enough to worry us.”

Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad, Pakistan contributed to this report.

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