Pakistan's largest lake at risk of overflowing as authorities struggle to stop flooding

ITV News' International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar has the latest from the ground in Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities are trying to stop the country's largest lake from overflowing in a bid to prevent further flooding.

On Monday, army engineers made a second cut into an embankment at Lake Manchar to release rising waters in the hopes of saving the nearby city of Sehwan from major flooding.

The water from the lake has already inundated dozens of nearby villages, forcing hundreds of families to leave their mudbrick homes in a hurry, many fleeing in panic.

Though the floods have touched all of Pakistan, the Sindh province has been among the worst hit.

Rescue operations continued on Tuesday with troops and volunteers using helicopters and boats to get those stranded out of the flooded areas and to nearest relief camps. Tens of thousands of people are already living in such camps, and thousands more have taken shelter on roadsides on higher ground.

Excessive rains are now also threatening the ruins of Mohenjo Daro, a famed archaeological site dating back 4,500 years, the site’s chief official said on Tuesday.

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Located in southern Sindh province near the Indus River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruins are considered among the best preserved urban settlements in South Asia. They were discovered in 1922 and to this day, mystery surrounds the disappearance of its civilization, which coincided with those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The swelling waters of the Indus, a major river in this part of the world, have wreaked havoc as heavy rains and massive flooding unleashed devastation across much of Pakistan.

At least 1,325 people have been killed and millions have lost their homes in the surging waters, with many experts blaming the unusually heavy monsoon rains on climate change.

The flooding has not directly hit Mohenjo Daro but the record-breaking rains have inflicted damage on the ruins of the ancient city, said Ahsan Abbasi, the site’s curator.

“Several big walls, which were built nearly 5,000 years ago, have collapsed because of the monsoon rains,” Abbasi said.

Ruins at Mohenjo Daro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suffered damage from heavy rainfall, in Larkana District, of Sindh, Pakistan Credit: AP

He said dozens of construction workers under the supervision of archaeologists have started the repair work. Abbasi did not give an estimated cost of the damages at Mohenjo Daro.

Abbasi said the civilization at Mohenjo Daro, also known as “Mound of the Dead” in the local Sindhi language, built an elaborate drainage system, which has been critical when floods have struck in the past.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif urged Pakistanis to generously donate to flood victims, most of whom are relying on government help to survive. Sharif has also repeatedly asked the international community to send more aid to the flood victims. He insisted that Pakistan is facing a climate-change-induced tragedy.

In a statement on Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said it handed over thousands of tents and other emergency items to the Sindh government, meant for those affected by the flooded areas in the province.

Multiple experts say that since 1959, Pakistan has emitted about 0.4% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, compared to 21.5% by the United States and 16.4% by China.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the crisis. He plans to visit flood-hit areas on September 9.

According to Pakistani officials, Guterres will travel to Sindh but it’s unclear whether he will visit the archaeological site.