Eyewitness report

Account of the flood
In the afternoon of July 30th 2011, a devastating flood struck Halji. At around 4:30 pm a loud roar could be heard from the river, and everybody ran out of their houses to check what happened. In the beginning the water was retained by gabion walls, the last stretch of which was built only a month earlier. But as the flood grew fiercer, the embankments burst and water gushed towards the village with great force. The ground was shaking as the water carried large amounts of rocks and debris. The rocks made the water change its course several times, and chunks of land kept sliding down colouring the water almost black and filling the air with a strong smell of mud. People immediately started evacuating the houses near the river bank and managed to move most of their belongings to the houses of relatives further away. After a while it became too dangerous to enter the houses and at around 7:30 pm, the first wall gave in. An hour and a half later two houses were cut open by the flood. People could only passively watch their fields and homes being carried away by the torrents of water. By 10 pm in the evening, the flood slowly started to recede, and by the next morning, the water level was down to normal.

Two houses which were situated near the river bank were completely destroyed by the flood. In addition, the families living in five directly adjoining houses will have to rebuild their homes this winter. The flooding river has carved out much of the moraine ground on which the village is built, and twelve houses and the one thousand year monastery, which is now located only a few metres from the river bank, are at great risk. Officers from the local police force visited the site of the disaster the day after the flood and estimated that approximately 200 ropanies of land were destroyed that evening. Some of the livestock is also reported missing. Since the flood in 2006 more than 100 fields have been washed away and another 100 fields have been completely covered by sand and rendered useless by the recent flood. Some of the poorer families have lost all their fields and food aid will therefore be needed for the winter.

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