Yarkhoon valley is located in the district Chitral, KPK and is an administrative unit. The valley consists of a total of 39 villages and many small settlements. As the Monsoon season has been ongoing since early July as forecasted by the PMD, it has now reached its peak with various villages suffering from flash floods due to the Yarkhoon river overflowing from the rainwater outflowing the banks. A lot of devastation has occurred as people are displaced and their livestock, houses and even trees are being uprooted and swept away in the floods.
Damage due to the Floods:
As of Friday- 21 July 2023, A village called Megagram suffered a early morning flash flood that swept away everything however the people hardly were able to make it to safety. With not evacuation system in sight nor an early warning system having placed despite numerous pleas to the government over the years. People are suspecting that the lighting and cloudburst may be the cause of the sudden flash flood as there were no signs of rain at 5am in the morning when the flood reached the village. The floods have also left many Primary schools like Government Primary School Pewar submerged underwater.
Locals have suffered losses in terms of shops, houses, property, livestock that were worth millions of rupees. 8 out of 12 houses had been completely swept away according to a local volunteer and most of the remaining ones have been partially and completely damaged. Significant damage to the ecosystem is also occurring as along with houses an properties, Giant Poplar trees that were centuries old have also been uprooted and swept away in the strong torrents of the flash floods. Many cattle and livestock which is the main mode of livelihood for the people there have also been swept away.
On Saturday, there was another flash flood that wreaked havoc in the villages Danin, Kari and Ayun besides Koghuzi Valley nearby Yarkhun River which swelled with water even more due to melting glaciers and snow.
An emergency alert has been issued in both the upper and lower Chitral regions by the government which is to last until 15th August. Many bridges had been damaged by the floods and are currently being repaired and flood relief efforts and funds have been appealed for to the PDMA.
All communication to and from Chitral has been down since a few days as there is a power outage due to the flood waters having entered Singoor Powerhouse that provided electricity for most of the region. Rescue efforts have also been severely effected due to major road damage and inaccessibility.
Roads that are important for entering and leaving Chitral such as Chitral-Booni road are severely blocked due to standing waters and debris blocking the roads. Efforts of restoring them are underway however people are still unable to leave due to lack of shelter, food and proper relief efforts from the Pakistan Government. So far the only help being provided is through volunteer groups and local administration which is not sufficient as many regions do not even have access to that due to lack of manpower.
New reports also report new flash floods in Grovur Gol that have swept away two mini dams, power lines and as a result have cut off power and electricity supply to many surrounding regions like: Mahting, Khruzg, Dizg and Istach villages.
Yarkhoon Valley has previously suffered from Torrential rains and monsoon flash flooding in 2015 and 2018 respectively in various villages like Brep and destroyed all croplands, fruit trees and washed them away until the roads were badly blocked. Yet, the government still hasn’t taken any measures to install early warning systems and as a result due to previously poor relief efforts and rebuilding, the devastation this time is progressively getting worse and the people affected are in dire need of tents, food and clean water.
Even though as of Monday, 24th July 2023, the PDMA has dispatched some relief packages containing food and medicine, the number of affected is rising due to the sudden flash floods occurring across the regions and it is predicted this condition will last until the monsoon season subsides.
Also check out: How To Prevent Hazardous Monsoon Season Flooding in Pakistan and Impacts Of Changing Monsoon Season Rains Pattern In Pakistan
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An Environmental Science major interested in creating awareness about all things related to the environment and how we can protect it.