Landslides block Kali Gandaki; dam burst unlikely (Update)

  • No casualties reported, surrounding areas vacated
- Ekantipur Report
Landslides block Kali Gandaki; dam burst unlikely (Update)

May 24, 2015-

A massive landslide has blocked Kali Gandaki River at Baisari in Bhagwati VDC of Myagdi district early Sunday morning.

The landslip has buried 25 houses in Baisari. No human casualties have been reported yet. Panic-stricken locals in Baisari and areas including district headquarter Beni, Ghatan, Benibazar, Galeshwor, Pokharebagar have started to move to higher grounds after the river was blocked by the landslide at around 1 am this morning.

Great Quake behind landslide: Experts

Normally landslide is triggered by rain but in this case, the cracks triggered by earthquake led the debris to fall, according to experts. Rocks, boulders and mud are falling making huge sound.

Ministry of Science and Technology has declared 'high alert' in the settlements along the banks of Kaligandaki River owing to continuous landslides which have blocked the River.

Flood Forecasting division of Department of Hydrology and Meterology under Ministry has appealed to the residents of settlements in the 7 districts below the landslide location  the river to stay alert.

"A landslide based dam has been formed at Kaligandaki river approximately 10 km upstream of Beni Bazar. Residents living downstream in Galeshwor Bazaar and Beni Bazaar need to be in high alert," states a warning in the Ministry's website. "Parts of Syangja, Parbat, Myagdi, Baglung, Gulmi, Palpa and Nawalparasi districts in the downstream of this river also need to stay high alert."

Photo of Beni bazaar. (Pic: Wikipedia)  

Beni bazaar at high risk; surrounding areas vacated

Nepal Police, through their twitter account, informed that the water level in the artificial dam created after the blockage of the river has risen by 150 meters.

Myagdi district headquarters, Beni bazaar, is said to be at the biggest risk due to the blockage as construction of gabion walls 3 kms from the confluence of the rivers on both sides has not been completed. The campaign was launched on 1998 and has only completed a gabion walls covering only a kilometre of Myagdi and Kaligandaki rivers.

Locals have already vacated the district headquarter Beni bazaar and move to safer grounds. Transportation along Beni-Jomsom road section has come to a halt.

“We have asked people to remain on high alert and move to safer grounds. Not a drop of water is flowing downstream. We are still gathering the full scale of the damage,” said Myagdi Chief District Officer Tek Bahadur KC.

Falling debris prevent team from draining out water

Nawa Raj Sharma, UML lawmaker from Myagdi who is now in Beni, said that the continuous falling of debris is making it difficult for the rescue team to siphon off the water from the lake. The chopper which flew into the district with rescue team was not able to locate the exact spot where the river was blocked as its view was blocked by the dust from the falling debris.

Rescue chopper lands

A chopper with six rescue personnel onboard, which had flown for Myagdi from the Capital, landed one kilometers upstream at 9:40, said Nepal Police. The team will now attempt to drain out the water from the artificial lake. Nepal Army, Nepal Police personnel and officials from the Home Ministry have already reached the incident site.

Water level rising; but chances of the dam bursting unlikely

Rishi Ram Sharma, director general at the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) said that the normal water flow recorded in the Kaligandaki River is 50 cumecs (cubic metre per second). “At this rate, 180,000 cubic foot of water will be stored in an hour in the artificial lake. After 10 hours of being blocked, around 1.8 million cubic foot of water will be stored in dam. So, if the stored water is not funneled out soon, this will pose a serious risk to villages situated both downstream and upstream of the blocked river site,” said Sharma. Sharma, however, said that it was highly unlikely that the dam will burst anytime soon.

Likewise, Prakriti Raj Joshi, a geologist with Nepal Electricity Authority who returned from the dammed river, said that the water level has been constantly rising as the security personnel have not been able to find an outlet for the accumulated water.



Published: 24-05-2015 07:00

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