Pakistan evacuates thousands after melting glaciers triggers floods

Islamabad, Jul. 9, (dpa/GNA) – Pakistani authorities have evacuated thousands of people from their mountain hamlets as the outburst of a glacial lake triggered flash floods after weeks of heatwaves, officials said on Tuesday.

The people from several villages in the mountains of Skardu in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region were moved to safer places after floods destroyed their houses and crops, local rescue official Haroon Gul said.

The region is located between Himalaya and Karakorum Mountain ranges and is home to more than 3,000 glacial lakes, more than in any other part of the world, according to the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP).

The rescue agency started the evacuation on the weekend and continued until Monday, Gul said.

Rising temperatures caused by global warming have made the glacial lake prone to sudden outbursts that often result in flash floods, said Shehzad Shigri from the regional environment protection ministry.

Most parts of Pakistan, one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, were in the grip of severe heatwave with temperatures hitting 50 degrees Celsius in some areas.

Prolonged spells of heat and the prediction of heavy rains in the coming weeks may cause more glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) in the mountains, the national disaster agency warned.

Thousands of people lose their lives and livelihoods due to climate-induced incidents in the South Asian country that contributes hardly anything to global carbon omission.GNA