Update from Focus Humanitarian Assistance
17 May 2010 — Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) would like to provide the Jamat with a brief follow-up update on its collaboration with Jamati institutions, Aga Khan Development Network agencies and Pakistan’s national agencies in response to the devastating landslide that occurred in the Attabad village of Hunza Valley in Pakistan on 4 January 2010.
The landslide adversely impacted the three villages of Attabad, Sarat and Ahmadabad, with 19 casualities, 2 missing persons and 7 severely injured people, in addition to the 170 households that were displaced. At the time of the disaster, FOCUS deployed Search and Rescue Teams and Disaster Assessment Response Teams to initiate search and rescue operations. Further, with the assistance and cooperation of various AKDN agencies as well as the Ismaili Council for Pakistan, food, relief and temporary shelters in Central Hunza were provided to the displaced communities.
The landslide also resulted in the formation of a 16-kilometre-long lake, which submerged and damaged 15 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway cutting off road links with upper Hunza. Notwithstanding the continuing efforts by the Government to construct spillways, international experts have warned that a potential risk of a lake outburst in the next two to four weeks is possible. As per assessments undertaken by FOCUS Pakistan, the impact of the outburst and flooding on downstream villages could be devastating, and could result in the displacement of an additional 1 600 households (12 800 people). Further, 13 bridges, 56 buildings (including four Aga Khan Education Service schools), hospitals and religious places (of which four are Jamatkhanas), and two link roads are at risk of being submerged due to the high level of waters in the river.
Contingency plans have already been put into effect with early warning systems placed in 12 highly vulnerable villages, and with the identification of evacuation routes and safe havens, including training, awareness and simulation exercises being undertaken in each village. FOCUS has been working with the Aga Khan Foundation Helicopter Wing operations in Pakistan to identify safe evacuation routes and landing sites.
Members of the Jamat who wish to support FOCUS’ ongoing disaster preparedness and response activities are requested to contact their national FOCUS units or their respective National Councils.