World Heritage Sites Threatened by Pakistan Floods

By Stephanie Lam
Stephanie Lam
Stephanie Lam
August 19, 2010 Updated: July 16, 2012

Swelling floodwaters are causing damage to important historical sites in Pakistan, including registered world heritage sites. Locals at risk include three United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites: Moenjodaro, Takht-i-Bahi, and Thatta.

UNESCO grandly describes Moenjodaro as “an immense urban center built of baked bricks dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C.” The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980.

Moenjodaro is the earliest planned city known, with a complete water supply and sewerage system described in detail in a UNESCO video.

Takht-i-Bahi is a well-preserved Buddhist monastic complex founded in the early 1st century. Thatta is the capital of three dynasties, and was embellished many times during the 14th to 18th centuries.

"Of the three high-risk sites, the ruins of the huge city of Moenjodaro remain the most vulnerable due to soil conditions and the high water table in the area near the raging River Indus," Dr. Warren Mellor, UNESCO Director and Representative in Pakistan, told Gulf News in Islamabad.

“Mohenjodaro stands in the path of the floodwaters descending through the Indus River Valley,” according to a UNESCO statement.

But Aamri, a national heritage site in Pakistan, is in even greater danger than Moenjodaro, said Karim Lashari, chief of the provincial antiquities department, according to AFP.

The prehistoric ruins of the town of Aamri, historical Lal Bagh, and the century-old village of Goth Sher Khan Solangi are also being damaged, reported SAMAA Pakistan news.

UNESCO Islamabad’s in-house Flood Task Force held a teleconference Wednesday and discussed how to help protect the sites.

“While the extent of damage [in Moenjodaro] is not yet known, the waters have reached unprecedented levels and threaten the ruins as well as the protective structures built during an International Safeguarding Campaign headed by UNESCO and completed in 1997,” writes UNESCO.

When the water has receded, UNESCO will assess the damage to Moenjodaro and Thatta.