The news agencies have already reported about the earthquake, which took place on January 9 in the republic of Tajikistan. The scale of the natural disaster does not go beyond the framework of the tragedies, which have already become usual for the republic. There were three people killed as a result of the earthquake, and all of them were children. There were about 60 people injured too. Over 50 houses were destroyed in the villages, and some 600 people became homeless during the winter.
The rescuing services of the republic are now actively involved in the operations to help those, who suffered. The Russian rescuers are also working together with the Tajiks. The Russian EMERCOM sent the humanitarian aid to the site from Dushanbe (the capital of Tajikistan) within the first hours after the tragedy – the cargo, which was actually meant to be shipped to Afghanistan.
However, it is not the actual disaster that is highlighting, but the place, where it happened. This time the nature played its terrible game in Rogun – in the place, where there is a high-level hydroelectric power station being built. The power capacity of the station was supposed to reach 3.6 million kilowatt.
The first news from the site of the tragedy informed that the dam of the station had been seriously damaged, which posed a very serious threat to the entire region – a tremendous flood. This instantly became the key subject of all comments. However, it then became known that the building of the mentioned hydroelectric power station was stopped back in 1992 due to the lack of the funding. The dam remained unfinished. But the main thing is that the river was not blocked, so nothing could actually break the dam – there was no water reservoir storage there.
Nevertheless, there was a lot of information, which said there were numerous splits in the body of the unfinished dam, which testified to the power of the natural disaster on the one hand, and to the weakness of the man-made creation. The station in Rogun is not the only one on the Vaksha river. There is another one downstream, for example, the one, the dam height of which is 300 meters. So an earthquake is the potential threat to each of them: thousands of settlements will find themselves in the flood zone; they are commonly built closer to the water.
But this is not all. The news reporters did not even mention the largest water reservoir on the river – the mountainous Sarezsky lake. It was formed at the height of about 3.5 kilometers after the disastrous earthquake in 1911, when the power of nature moved a mountain and blocked the stream of the Murgab river. It all resulted in the birth of the lake – 80 kilometers long and 500 meters deep. This natural dam holds almost 20 cubic kilometers of water. If this mass caves in, it will destroy every living being hundreds of kilometers around. Millions of people may fall victims to that would-be disaster.
The scientists were constantly watching the Sarezsky lake during the Soviet times, and their forecasts were not really optimistic. The natural ground dam was getting weaker with every year. The filtration of the water considerably raises the possibility of the water inrush. Some pessimistic people even predicted, the tragedy would take place in 1968. The erosion of the natural dam started again in 1994, furthermore - who is going to say there will be no other earthquake in the area?
The catastrophe in Rogun showed that the countries of the former Soviet Union could not resist the power of nature alone. The experts said that many times before – the hydroelectric power stations could collapse: the specialists were living the area, there were no prophylactic works performed, and all the countries of the region suffered a lot from that, even without the earthquakes.
Yury Razgulayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek-Dushanbe
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Reuters photo: Tajiks mourn over the bodies of those killed by the earthquake in the village of Talkhak in Tajikistan, January 10, 2002. The quake badly hit an area near the town of Rogun