Authorities in flood-hit Pakistan on Sunday strategically breached the country’s largest freshwater lake, a minister said, displacing up to 100,000 people from their homes but sparing more densely populated areas from collecting the waters of flood.
Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in the mountains of northern Pakistan have caused floods that have affected 33 million people and killed at least 1,290 people, including 453 children. The flooding, blamed on climate change, continues to spread.
Lake Manchar, which is used for water storage, had already reached dangerous levels and the increased pressure posed a threat to surrounding areas in the country’s southern Sindh province, the minister of health said. ‘Irrigation of Sindh, Jam Khan Shoro.
He said around 100,000 people would be affected by the breach in five councils, but it would help save more populated clusters and also help lower water levels in other hardest hit areas.
“By inflicting the breach, we tried to save Sehwan town. The water levels of Johi and Mehar towns in Dadu district would be reduced by this breach in the lake,” Shoro told Reuters on Sunday.
It was unclear how many of the 100,000 invited to leave their homes would actually do so.
Historic rainfall aside, southern Pakistan faced increased flooding as a surge of water flowed into the Indus River.
The country has already received nearly three times the 30-year average rainfall between the quarter and August, totaling 390.7 millimeters. Sindh province, with a population of 50 million, was the hardest hit, receiving 464% more rain than the 30-year average.
Being downstream of the Indus River, the southern parts of the country have witnessed swelling river waters coming from the north. Pakistan’s limited dams and reservoirs are already overflowing and cannot be used to stop downstream flows.
The Tarbela dam in the northwest has been at full capacity for weeks, according to data from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Downstream in Sindh, dams are under pressure with the Indus River in high flood, the NDMA said in its latest status report.