Friday, 1 May 2009

Bhutan : Punakha residents return home after the flood

April 30: Life has once again become normal in Punakha. The people have moved back into their house, schools have re-opened and offices have resumed work.

But yesterday, the scenario was different. In the early hours of the morning, people living along the Punatsangchu had to move hastily out of their homes after they were warned that a lake below the Thorthomi Lake in Lunana had breached its banks. Schools and offices were closed.

Even by evening, people were reluctant to move into their house even though the situation had by then been declared out of danger. The muddy Pho Chu River is also slowly regaining its original colour. Dzongkhag officials who have been constantly monitoring the situation said there is no risk of flooding for now.

The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley who also rushed to Punakha yesterday described it as a low intensity flood and said it should not be regarded as a false alarm. The Prime Minister however said it is worrying to see people rushing towards the river to watch the scene instead of moving to safer places.

The Punakha Dzongda Dawala said he had to make frequent trips between Khuruthang and Punakha to alert the people and pursue them to move away from the river.

The Punakha Dzongda said a proper mock drill may have to be carried out to create better understanding among the public.

Dzongkhag officials and concerned agencies are now identifying safe zones where people could move in the event of another flood.

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