Hunza’s Hassanabad Bridge on the Karakoram Highway was destroyed and washed away by the Glacial Lake Explosive Flood (GLOF) at Shisper Glacier on Saturday.
Gilgit-Baltistan tourism police added that traffic was diverted to an alternate route on Sas Valley Road.
A video shared on social media showed violent floods tore and swept away parts of the bridge.
Hunza Police Commissioner (SP) Zahoor Ahmed said last Saturday that the heat started melting glaciers and caused flooding, damaging bridges and making traffic impossible.
He said tourists were facing difficulties and were offered an alternative route via Ghanish and Murtajabad. He added that tourist police were also deployed to prevent inconvenience to tourists.
The SP said families near Nullah were moved to a safe place and the entire administration, including police and rescue teams, was put in a state of emergency.
Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Mohyuddin Ahmad Wani said the National Highway Authority (NHA) and the Frontier Works Organization were confident that the bridge would be repaired urgently.
The Secretary-General also directed GB Interior Minister Iqbal Hussain, Gilgit’s Commissioner and the Deputy Director for the region to take immediate action to restore the Hassanabad Bridge and to address any inconvenience caused to passengers.
Information from the secretary’s office said food and fuel supplies are being guaranteed for tourists, as well as rehabilitation and distribution for victims’ families.
It also added that two power plants in Hassanabad were also swept away by the flood.
According to a statement released by the Provincial Police Agency, control offices are located in Hunza and Gilgit, and can be reached at 05813-930721-2 and 05811-930033, respectively.
Ministers pay attention to global warming and climate change
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman has warned that there are many such vulnerable areas in GB and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “Pakistan has the most glaciers outside the poles,” she noted, “and many glaciers are losing mass due to high global temperatures.”
Rehman previously warned local disaster management authorities and the Ministry of Home Affairs that there is a potential for GLOF events and flash floods at GB and KP due to local temperature rises.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said melting glaciers is also a “issue of concern”. He said we need a concerted international effort to tackle climate change.
“The situation resulting from the Lake Shishper Glacier eruption must be dealt with urgently. Governments must ensure that communities are not harmed in any way and that land routes are open.
FM Bilawal said, “The administration will ensure that ordinary citizens and tourists do not suffer.”
GB Environmental Protection Director Shahzad Shigri said climate change has accelerated the melting of glaciers in the region and poses a serious threat to the population.