Sunkoshi: Water starts draining out after controlled blasts

KATHMANDU: Nepal Army resorted to controlled blasts to gradually release water from a grand lake that got formed after the Sunkoshi River was blocked at Jure, Mankha VDC of Sindhulpalchok district today.

Till 3:30 pm, three such explosions were carried out to broaden the course that the water made on its own after coming up to the top of debris, deposited by the landslides, and started overflowing.

The river, blocked for more than 11 hours, swelled and formed a big lake extending upstream and inundating areas upstream, and imposing a threat outburst floods downstream.

According to Brigadier General Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, NA spokesperson, an NA team, guided by a team of experts, carried out the first explosion at around 1:50 pm as the water level came up to the top of debris deposited by landslides that blocked the river.

NA team goes to assess the debris that blocked the Sunkoshi River before carrying out controlled explosions. Photo Courtesy: Nepal Army

After the first explosion, water started draining out at the rate of 10 mm per two seconds, the NA spokesperson told THT Online.

Likewise, the second explosion was carried out after about an hour. "After the second explosion, water level decreased by 50 mm," he said.

The third explosion was carried at around 3:30 pm.

"We are carrying out explosions strategically and in a controlled way. An abrupt increase of water flow would affect the areas downstream. So, the rate would be increased gradually with proper assessment of the post-explosion situation," Brig Gen Pokharel said.

Nepal Army has mobilised troops from its Disaster Assessment & Rescue Team (DART), and other personnel, including a team of doctors, to the landslide-hit Jure for rescue and search operation.

Security personnel from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force also have been deployed to the incident site.

Floodgates at Koshi Barrage opened

All 56 floodgates at the Koshi Barrage, bordering Saptari and Sunsari district, have been opened, considering the threat of outburst floods.

MoHA had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take an initiative to open the gates as the Indian side manages the Barrage along the Mahendra Highway in the Nepali side.

Support sought from India, China

Earlier today, an emergency meeting held at the Prime Minister's official residence in Baluwatar discussed the newfound crisis, and decided to seek support from India and China for rescue and relief operations.

Emergency meeting of MoHA's Central Natural Disaster Rescue Committee formally decided to direct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek support from India and China through diplomatic channels.

The sought support include expertise, equipment and logistics to deal with the Sunkoshi blockage, and potential outburst of the lake, according to Joint Secretary Koirala.

"If the lake exploded and we faced outburst floods before evacuation of people living in the crisis-hit region, we would need expertise as well as logistic support," he said.