A breach occurred naturally in Main Nara Valley Drain (MNVD), commonly known as Right Bank Outfall Drain-I, at RD-10 upstream Manchhar Lake on Tuesday that is expected to lower the water level in the country’s largest lake, officials said.
Water and Power Development Authority Chief Engineer (water) in Sukkur Naeem Qadir Mangi confirmed the development, explaining that an “afflux” had been created as Manchhar had not been receiving water from MNVD for the last couple of days.
“Finally, this afflux eroded a part of the bank at RD-10, causing a breach in MNVD.”
According to Sindh Special Irrigation Secretary Jamal Mangan, “the breach at RD-10 will help deplete Manchhar’s [water] level”.
Manchhar lake has been witnessing a surge in its water level in recent days as floodwaters from the north and hill torrents from Balochistan flow southwards to converge in Sindh, leaving behind a trail of deaths and destruction.
As of 6am today, the water level in Manchhar was recorded at 123.25-foot reduced level, Mangan said.
The reduced level of 124ft is described as dangerous.
Later, an engineer of the provincial irrigation department, Mahesh Kumar told Dawn.com that the water in the lake had dropped further to 123.2-foot reduced level. The was one decimal point less than the level of 123.3 RL recorded the previous night, he added.
Earlier, authorities had breached the lake’s dyke at two locations, in a bid to save the densely populated cities of Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad from flooding by diverting water to less populated areas.
Mangan said water flowing from the breaches at RD-14 and 52 was accumulating in a pocket. “Now, water flowing from the breach in MNVD at RD-10 will also end up in the same pocket.”
A Dawn.com correspondent present at the site reported that around five people were swept away by raging waters and later rescued after water burst through the breach at MNVD.
He said the five individuals were on motorcycles and passing by the drain when the path they were on collapsed and they fell in the raging waters.
Meanwhile, there were also reports of flooding in the five union councils of Sehwan — Jafferabad, Bubak, Wahur, Channa and Arazi — aggravating as a results of breaches at RD-14 and 52.
The reports of flooding began coming on Monday, with the first breach having been made on Sunday.
Dawn reported that the runway at Sehwan’s Shahbaz Airport was under a foot of water while the Pak-Arab refinery located in the area was also inundated.
Meanwhile, there were also reports of over 100 villages in Sehwan’s five affected UCs experiencing worsening floods, which compelled residents to evacuate.
Sardar Sikandar Rahopoto, an MNA from Sehwan, told Dawn.com on Tuesday that a population of around 150,000 was affected due to breaches on Manchhar’s dyke and most of the affected families and individuals had been evacuated.
Separately, Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Fariduddin Mustafa said residents affected by floods were being provided rations, cooked meals and other facilities.
Being downstream on the Indus River, the southern parts of the country have witnessed swelling river waters flowing from the north. Pakistan’s limited dams and reservoirs are already overflowing and cannot be used to stop downstream flows.
An update on the Flood Forecasting Division’s website showed that there was a high-level flood in the Indus River at Kotri.
11 more deaths reported
Separately, the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) said the floods had claimed 11 lives over the past 24 hours across the country, taking the death toll since June 14 to 1,325.
Scattered thunderstorm/rain of moderate intensity with isolated heavy falls were expected over the upper catchments of all major rivers along Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore and Faisalabad divisions, it said.
The centre said that 363 army helicopters had been flown to various areas for evacuating stranded people. “In the last 24 hours, 25 sorties have flown and evacuated 131 stranded individuals and delivered 32 tons of relief items to flood affectees,” the latest update said.
It added that so far, 3,716 stranded Individuals had been evacuated through these helicopter sorties.
Further, the centre said that there were 147 relief camps in Sindh, South Punjab and Balochistan while 284 relief item collection points had been established across the country.
“More than 250 medical camps established so far in which more than 97,000 patients have been treated all across the country and provided 3-5 days’ free medicine,” the NFRCC said.
The centre also said that construction of Saggu bridge at N-95 (DI Khan) was in progress and was likely to be completed by today.
“Electricity supply restored in Khuzdar and repair work on Dadu-Sibi-Quetta transmission line is in progress,” the statement said, adding that the gas supply in Quetta had been partially restored.
Impending health crisis
Pakistan is struggling to respond to the floods given their unprecedented magnitude. The government has said 33 million people — 15pc of its population — have been affected.
The United Nations has appealed for $160 million in aid to help tackle what it said was an “unprecedented climate catastrophe” and nations had been extending financial and moral support with promises for more.
Meanwhile, large-scale displacements and countries limited resources have led to fears of an impending health crisis.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 900 health facilities have been damaged due to floods in the country, 180 of them completely destroyed.
And with stagnant water everywhere preventing people from observing even a modicum of hygiene practices, stomach ailments and skin infections have become rampant.
According to the Sindh government, in August alone nearly 200,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and dysentery had been reported among children in flood-affected areas.
Given the state of affairs, Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said on Sunday that over 1,200 medical relief camps would be set up in more than 20 flood-hit districts this month to provide medical assistance to affected citizens.
Additional input from Reuters