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Pakistan Diverts Vast Lake To Protect Populated Areas, Displacing Up To 100,000 People

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Relentless monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains have brought flooding to Pakistan that has affected 33 million people.​

Pakistani authorities have diverted the country's largest freshwater lake, an action that will displace up to 100,000 people from their homes but could save more densely populated areas from surging floodwaters.

Sindh Province Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro said on September 4 that Lake Manchar had already reached dangerous levels, increasing the threat to surrounding areas in the southern region.

He estimated that about 100,000 people could be affected by the breach of the lake, which is used for water storage, but he said the move would help save more populated areas and also reduce water levels in other, harder-hit regions.

"By inflicting the breach, we have tried to save Sehwan town. Water levels on Johi and Mehar towns in Dadu District would be reduced by this breach in the lake," Shoro told Reuters.

Some people displaced amid the monsoon flooding have been reluctant to leave their homes, complaining that shelters are overcrowded.

Pakistan warned that more flooding could hit the area around Lake Manchar, which continues to swell from monsoon rains that have ravaged the country since June.

Lake Manchar is the largest natural fresh-water lake in Pakistan and among the largest in Asia.

Officials said on September 4 that the death toll from the flooding had topped 1,300.

Relentless monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains have brought flooding that has affected 33 million people.​

“The scale of devastation is massive and requires an immense humanitarian response,” said Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on September 3.

Earlier this month, Pakistan and the United Nations issued a joint appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help flood victims.

Pakistani officials have said it will take at least $10 billion and many years for the country to recover from the disaster.

More rains have been predicted for the northern mountains through September 6.

​Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters

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