Evacuations in Balochistan following dam breach

Local authorities on Wednesday evacuated some 5,000 people from low-lying villages in the southern coastal belt of Gawadar district in Pakistan's Balochistan province, after heavy rains caused a breach in the Aakra Kor dam, provincial relief officials told IRIN.

"People have been alerted against any potential flash flooding in the southern coastal belt, with the seasonal rivers in high flow following torrential rains over the past two days. The population of villages surrounding Aakra dam have been shifted to safe places," Raziq Bugti, head of the provincial crisis management cell (CMC), told IRIN from the provincial capital, Quetta.

According to the head of the provincial CMC, heavy downpours since Monday have killed 11 people in Balochistan, seven in the northern district of Qilla Abdullah and four in Quetta after roofs collapsed.

"We were working towards rehabilitation of affected communities. But now once again a full-scale relief operation is needed in the area, as the people in the coastal areas have still not recovered from floods caused by two weeks of heavy rains in early February," Bugti said.

In Balochistan, nearly half a million people were badly affected by heavy rains and floods in the first two weeks of February, with estimates of 4,000 families being left homeless in the southern coastal belt.

In addition, increased water flows severely damaged bridges, mud houses and small earthen dams built on a self-help basis by communities, including the 180 m long Shadi Kor dam in Pasni sub-district on 10 February.

The southern coastal belt has received record rainfall over the past two days, according to the country's meteorological office.

"Giwani [sub-district of Gawadar] has received 116 mm of continuous rain after bout 33 years [sense?], while Gawadar sub-district received 77 mm. As a result, all the seasonal rivers and small check dams in the area are overflowing," Muhammad Hanif, a meteorologist at the National Meteorological Department, told IRIN in the capital Islamabad.

Flash flooding has severed communication links across the Gawadar district. Floodwater has also reached Gawadar Airport closing it for flights, Dubai-based Geo TV reported on Wednesday.

Rain is expected for a further two days, according to the met office, but is then forecast the move towards the north thereafter.