Sunkoshi bursts landslide dam

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    MANKHA (SINDHUPALCHOK), SEP 08 – Water in a landslide-dammed lake on the Sunkoshi river has receded by a whopping 18 metres after the dam burst in the wee hours of Sunday.

    The outburst happened at around 2:30am, apparently due to the pressure of an increased volume of water caused by rainfall in the catchment area in the past couple of days. A Nepal Army team had been trying to drain the lake by widening its outlet.

    A massive landslide on August 2 blocked the river and formed the lake at Jure in Mankha VDC. The blocked water gushed out naturally after 36 days, inflicting a damage lesser in extent than what was feared.

    People at Damsite, Lamosangu and Khadichaur downstream fled to safety as they were alarmed by the noise of the swollen river.

    “We climbed to higher altitudes as the water threatened to sweep the bridge,” said 74-year-old Dolma Lama of Khadichaur.

    The flood damaged some houses, as far as six kilometers downstream. However, no human casualty was reported. A torrent of water, aggregate, boulders and vegetation hit Sunkoshi Hydropower Project.

    Transportation along Araniko Highway was halted as the road has developed cracks at several places.

    Chief District Officer Gopal Prasad Parajuli said the possibility of a worse disaster has been averted with the lowered level of the lake.

    “People living on the banks downstream should remain alert for more floods as the water continues to erode the dam and the gorge,” he warned.

    According to the Barhabise Police Post, the building belonging to Sanima Hydropower Project and six houses that were submerged have refursaced.

    NA soldiers had been conducting controlled blasts at the dam in their bid to speed up the water flow.

    It is suspected that the blasts weakened the dam further, causing it to burst ultimately.

    Ranjan Dahal, a geologist studying the Sunkoshi landslide, said the lake burst its bank where the Army had been trying to widen the channel. He added that the flooding threat would remain no longer if the lake became shallower by an additional 18 metres.

    Minister for Commerce and Supplies Sunil Bahadur Thapa and Maj Gen Victor Rana were among the officials who inspected the area on Sunday.

    More than 150 people were killed, hundreds displaced and properties worth millions of rupees destroyed in the catastrophic disaster.

    Source : eKantipur