Four officials from the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) arrived in Lunana yesterday morning to assess the Thorthormi Lake and reinstall the automatic water level station (AWLS) which was damaged on June 20 when the two subsidiary lakes breached.

It was learnt that the team conducted area survey to monitor the inlet between Thorthormi and Lugge Tsho and found it intact. They would install the AWLS and assess the lake today.

The home ministry and NCHM issued a flood advisory and alerted stakeholders and people residing along the banks of Phochu and Punatsangchu since June 21, as there is erosion and an outflow from subsidiary lake II, which could destablise the moraine dams of the main Thorthormi Lake.

On the command of His Majesty The King, 25 Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) personnel are on their way to Lunana to reconstruct and repair the two bridges in Thanza and Toenchoe, which were damaged because of the swollen river when the subsidiary lakes breached, according to a press release the home ministry issued yesterday.

Seventeen civil servants of Lunana and three engineers of Gasa dzongkhag administration would assist the RBA personnel in the bridge reconstruction work.

According to the press release, Gasa dzongkhag administration also made the logistic arrangements to transport cement and other necessary materials to the site.

It stated that the water level in the river continues to be normal as of 4pm yesterday and NCHM is monitoring the situation round the clock at Thanza, Wangduephodrang and Thimphu control centres.

The four member technical team, comprising of a glacier expert, two engineers and a technician, were supposed to reach Lunana on June 22 but reached only yesterday as their flight had to be cancelled because of unfavourable weather.

The technical team landed in Baytsho, which is an hour walk from Thorthormi Lake yesterday morning and visited the lake site yesterday.

Teachers of Lunana Primary School, who assisted the NCHM officials to monitor the lake physically since June 21 returned yesterday, as the school does not have summer break. “Our academic session is from April to November and we do not have mid-term break,” a teacher, Namgay Dorji said.

With only two NCHM officials in Lunana, one had to monitor the station in Thanza and the other had to be stationed at Thorthormi to monitor the lake after the June 20 incident. “Teachers had to help the NCHM official as he was alone,” Namgay Dorji said. “We returned as other NCHM officials arrived.”

Education ministry also issued a flood warning advising teachers and students to be cautious and to call off classes if anything happens.

Meanwhile, people of Lunana still out of their homes after they evacuated themselves to the yak sheds and tents since the night of June 20.

According to tshogpa Pema, people who went to harvest cordyceps have also returned home to take out their valuables and money and keep it in safe places. “If the glacial lake outburst flood occurs, we will not be able to save anything.”

  Tashi Dema