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Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa 

At 5am yesterday, Gasa Tshachhu Manager Tandin Dorji woke to a desolate sight—all six ponds, structures securing the tshachhu’s source, resting area, a choeten and the vegetable stall, among others, were wiped out.

“The Mochhu flowed over the area where the tshachhu ponds once stood. I was saddened by the sight,” Tandin Dorji said.

For the past week, Gasa has witnessed heavy rainfall. Gasa dzongkhag experienced the highest number of rainy days in 2020 with 214 days.

Tandin Dorji said that while the dzongkhag witnessed rainfall every day, for about a week, past 7pm, the rainfall was heavy.

“And on August 25, it was pouring after 7pm and we also heard noises. So at 10pm, we evacuated all people at the ponds to safety because some people tend to stay in the ponds at night.”

The visitors were sent to their guesthouses and the team went to bed around 1.30am and returned to the pond site at 5am yesterday.

“So we think the incident occurred around 3am,” Tandin Dorji said.

All 35 visitors left the tshachhu area yesterday morning. The visitors chose to leave after the notification from the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) said moderate to heavy rainfall was likely to continue over isolated places of southern parts of the country, and the intensity of rainfall was likely to decrease only from August 28.

Tandin Dorji said that the road to the tshachhu area also had landslides, which was cleared for the visitors to leave.   




Way forward

The dzongkhag staff, local leaders, police, and many others reached the site around 5:30am.

Gasa Dzongdag Rinzin Penjore said, “I am still not able to believe it. We tried our best but it was the forces of mother nature.”

Dzongdag Rinzin Penjore said that the dzongkhag staff would wait for the Mochhu to subside to assess and discuss a way forward. Currently, it isn’t sure if the tshachhu source is secure.

Manager Tandin Dorji said that the Mochhu has also washed off structures surrounding the source. “We hope the source is still there but we cannot tell for sure right now.”

Considering the risks the Mochhu posed to the tshachhu area, river diversion work had also started in December last year. However, due to continuous rainfall, work progress had been hampered several times.

Boulders and rainfall had made it difficult for the excavators to work, said the manager. However, on June 25, this year 30 percent of the Mochhu was diverted through a different route away from the tshachhu area.

The remaining 70 percent was to be diverted in winter when the river size was small.

“Because of the monsoon, we couldn’t do the work as machines were sinking in the river. So we thought to continue the work when the river size would be small during winter. We had hoped that there wouldn’t be many issues this year,” Tandin Dorji said.

Gasa tshachhu witnessed similar flooding in 2009. During the 2009 flood, the tshachhu ponds, shops, an outreach clinic and an attached room, and public toilets were washed off. It was reconstructed with a budget of Nu 40 million.


 




Pemagatshel 

A rescue team is still searching for the body of the girl who went missing when her house at Khoreypam in Pemagatshel was swept away by a landslide yesterday morning. Continuous heavy rainfall was suspected to have caused the slide.

Her parents also died in the incident.

According to sources, the girl and her went missing under the slide while the father and a boy living nearby were rescued and evacuated to Pemagatshel hospital.

DeSuups, dzongkhag officials, police and volunteers from the community continued to search for the duo. The team discovered the mother’s body at around 10am.

Sources said the father was reported dead at the hospital while the boy is in stable condition.

It was learned that the deceased were from Drametse gewog in Mongar.

Edited by Tshering Palden




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