Hunza lake: history may repeat itself Hunza lake: history may repeat itself Monday, May 24, 2010 PESHAWAR: The risk of flood in Hunza, Gilgit and the downcountry as a result of the lake formed at Attaabad due to a landslide isn't the first time that a natural disaster of such a big magnitude is posing threat to life and property in the area. In 1840, a similar situation arose at Boonji in Gilgit area and caused a devastating flood. History buff Ali Jan has sent excerpts from Edward W Knight's book, Where Three Empires: A Narrative of Recent Travel in Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit and the Adjoining Countries, in which he writes about the 1840 flood. The book was published by Longmans, Green & Co., 1905. The author Edward Knight wrote that the flood started in Gilgit after a landslide as a huge chunk of mountain fell into the River Indus, blocked the flow of water and formed a long and deep lake that burst and caused devastation. The flood not only damaged land and habitation downstream but it also swept away the Sikh army camping by the riverside in faraway Attock. Ali Jan has also posed a question: Is history repeating itself? One hopes it doesn't happen this time. Below is the relevant excerpt from that book: Boonji signifies fifty in the language of these parts, and the name as it is said was given to this district because there were once fifty villages and considerable cultivation in the now desert vale of the Indus between the mouths of the Astor and Gilgit streams. An extraordinary flood in 1840, which is striking example of the huge scale of the convulsions of Nature in this region of gigantic mountains, was no doubt the primary cause of the present desolation. Near the Hattu Pir a whole mountain suddenly fell into the Indus, forming a great dam across the river, and preventing all outlets. The waters rose behind this dam for six months, flooding all the plain of Boonji and the valley of the Gilgit River, till a lake was formed 35 miles in length, and of great depth. At last, the rising lake reached the top of the dam, overflowed it, forced a breach, and then, with irresistible power, the immense mass of water opened a broad, deep channel through the opposing mountain. The liberated Indus once more rushed down its gorges and the last lake was drained in one day. Hundreds of miles away, the great wave of the flood overwhelmed a Sikh army that was encamped near Attock, and the loss of life and property all down the valley of Indus was beyond computation.