Attabad Lake

Attabad Lake (Gojal lake)
عطا آباد جھیل
The lake's waters are turquoise in spring and early summer as meltwater from nearby mountains deposits glacial silt that settles over the course of the summer
Attabad Lake (Gojal lake)
عطا آباد جھیل
Attabad Lake (Gojal lake)
عطا آباد جھیل

Attabad, Gojal Hunza Valley, Gilgit Baltistan,

Coordinates 36°20′13″N 74°52′3″E / 36.33694°N 74.86750°E / 36.33694; 74.86750Coordinates: 36°20′13″N 74°52′3″E / 36.33694°N 74.86750°E / 36.33694; 74.86750
Primary inflows Hunza River, 2,800 cu ft/s (79 m3/s), 26 May 2010[1]
Primary outflows Hunza River overflowing landslide dam, 3,700 cu ft/s (100 m3/s), 4 June 2010
Basin countries Pakistan
Max. length 13 miles (21 km)
Max. depth 358 feet (109 m)[2]
Water volume 330,000 acre feet (410,000,000 m3), 26 May 2010[1]

Attabad Lake also known as Gojal lake (Urdu: عطا آباد جھیل), is a lake in Gojal Valley, Hunza, Pakistan that was created in January 2010 by a landslide dam.[3] The lake has since become a tourist attraction itself for its unique blue color and dramatic mountain backdrop.


The lake was formed due to a massive landslide at Attabad Village in Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, 9 miles (14 km) upstream (east) of Karimabad that occurred on 4 January 2010.[4] The landslide killed twenty people and blocked the flow of the Hunza River for five months. The lake flooding has displaced 6,000 people from upstream villages, stranded (from land transportation routes) a further 25,000,[5] and inundated over 12 miles (19 km) of the Karakoram Highway.[1] The lake reached 13 miles (21 km) long and over 100 metres (330 ft) in depth by the first week of June 2010 when it began flowing over the landslide dam, completely submerging lower Shishkat and partly flooding Gulmit.[1] The subdivision of Gojal has the greatest number of flooded buildings, over 170 houses, and 120 shops. The residents also had shortages of food and other items due to the blockage of the Karakoram Highway.[6][7] By 4 June water outflow from the lake had increased to 3,700 cu ft/s (100 m3/s).[8]

Water levels continued to rise in 18 June 2010 caused by a difference in the outflow and inflow of the new lake. As bad weather continued, the supply of food, medicine and other goods was stopped as all forms of transportation including helicopter service to Hunza could not resume.[9]

Aftermath of landslide

Victims of the landslide and expansion of the lake staged a sit-in protesting the lack of government action and compensation payments to them.[10]

As a result of the damming of Hunza River, five villages north of the barrier were flooded. One village, Ayeenabad, was completely submerged. Major portions of another village, Shishkat, was also submerged. Around 40% of the village of Gulmit, which also serves as the headquarters of Gojal Valley, was also submerged. Significant portions of land in Hussain and Ghulkin villages of Gojal also got submerged as a result of the surging lake.

The entire population of Hunza and Gojal valley, up to 25000 individuals, were affected[11] as a result of the lake, due to difficulties of road access and reaching business markets and loss of land, houses, and agricultural products.

Attabad Lake has been visited by former Prime Ministers Yousuf Raza Gillani and Nawaz Sharif, and by the Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Sharif announced Rs 100 million of aid for the victims from the Punjab government and Rs 0.5 million for the relatives of those who died in the landslide.[12]

Areas downstream from the lake remained on alert[13] despite some officials believing that a major flood scenario was less likely as the river began flowing over the landslide dam during the first week of June 2010.[14][15] Many people have been evacuated to 195 relief camps.[2] Two hospitals downstream, the Kashrote Eye Vision Hospital and the Aga Khan Health Service,[16] evacuated both their staff and equipment.[12] Some officials had incorrectly predicted that as soon as the lake began flowing over the landslide dam, a 60 feet (18 m) wave would hit the areas immediately downstream.[17]

As of 14 June 2010, the water level continued to rise. DawnNews reported that "242 houses, 135 shops, four hotels, two schools, four factories, and several hundred acres of agricultural land" had been flooded, and that villagers were receiving food and school fee subsidies. They reported that 25 kilometres (16 mi) of the Karakoram Highway and six bridges were destroyed.[18]

Frontier Works Organization blasted the spillway of the lake first on 27 March 2012 and then on 15 May 2012, lowering the lake's water level by at least 33 feet (10 m).[19]

Karakorum Highway realignment

Part of Karakorum Highway was submerged due to this landslide. On 14 September 2015, Prime Minister of Pakistan[20] performed inauguration of realigned 24 km patch of KKH containing five tunnels at Attabad Barrier Lake. The seven kilometre long five tunnels are part of the 24 km long portion of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) which was damaged in 2010 due to land sliding at Attabad. The realignment project is a construction masterpiece completed at the cost of $275 million. The realignment restored the road link between Pakistan and China and it is expected that significant amount of trade will be conducted between China and Pakistan using it. The KKH is also a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and is expected to significantly increase economic integration between those two nations.

Effect on local communities

The Gojal Valley, which is worst affected as a result of this lake, is home to three small ethnic groups, namely the Wakhi (80%), Burushaski (18%), and Domaki (2%).[21] The entire population of Domaki speakers, a very small minority and historically marginalised community, was displaced from their village of Shishkat.

The Wakhi and Burushaski speaking minority ethnic groups have also been affected severely as a result of the disaster.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Shabbir Ahmed Mir (26 May 2010). "Attabad lake swallows Shishkat". The Express Tribune. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  2. 1 2 "Surging water destroys banks of Atta Abad Lake". The News International. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  3. "Gojal: Where Pakistan begins". pamirtimes.
  4. Siddiqi, Tanvir (24 May 2010). "Attabad Lake submerges more homes". PakObserver. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  5. "Attabad Lake victims end protest after talks". The Nation. 22 May 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  6. Water level rising in Attabad lake
  7. Michael Bopp; Judie Bopp (May 2013). "Needed: a second green revolution in Hunza" (PDF). HiMaT. p. 4. Retrieved 26 November 2015. Karakorum Area Development Organization (KADO), Aliabad
  8. Dave Petley (4 June 2010), "Attabad spillway flow update of 08:30 this morning", Hunza Blog, Durham University, England, retrieved 26 November 2015
  9. "Water level rising continuously in Attabad Lake". Dawn. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  10. "Attabad lake affectees end protest after Govt assurance of compensation". Online International News Network. 22 May 2010. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  11. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  12. 1 2 Shabbir Ahmed Mir (25 May 2010). "Attabad 'water bomb' countdown". The Express Tribune. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  13. "Attabad Lake rises to threatening 353-foot level". The News International. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  14. Provinces, (1 June 2010). "Outpour from Attabad lake increasing". The DAWN Media Group. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  15. Mir, Shabbir Ahmed (1 June 2010). "Major flood in Attabad less likely, say officials". The Express Tribune. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  16. "Focus Humanitarian Assistance Provides Relief for Landslide Victims in Hunza, Pakistan". Attabad Village, Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan: Aga Kahn. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  17. Hamdani, Raza (19 May 2010). "Pakistanis fear overflowing lake will wash them away". BBC News. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  18. "Water leve--~~~~--~~~~l rises in Attabad lake". DAWN Media Group. 14 June 2010. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  20. "PM Nawaz to inaugurate Attabad Karakoram Highway Realignment Project on Monday | The News Teller". Retrieved 1 October 2015.
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