Faulty design and inability to stand the onslaught of torrential rains may be the reasons for the collapse of the small earthen dam on the Shadi Kor near the coastal town of Pasni in Baluchistan province of southwest Pakistan on Feb. 10. At least 135 died and up to 1,500 were missing as the dam burst over several coastal towns. A second Baluchistan dam ruptured Feb. 14, killing seven people.

Sources said that the dam was designed by the provincial government to meet the irrigation needs of local farmers. "I think this dam will need to be redesigned. But I really cannot say anything for certain till I get all the facts. I am expecting detailed information in a day or two," Jahangir Akhtar, vice president, Geotechnical division in Pakistan's ministry of water and power told ENR.

The Shadi Kor earth dam, about 150 m long and 16 m high, was completed some time between 2000 and 2003 at a cost of $758,800, official sources said. It was designed and built by the provincial government for irrigation.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time that the dam has been overtopped. I do not think it has suffered any damages earlier," Akhtar says.

Pakistani government sources could not confirm if any serious attempt was made to warn or evacuate the people before they were carried off by flooding waters after the dam burst.

"Over the past two days we have recovered 80 bodies around the coastal town of Pasni after the breach of Shadi Kor dam, and hundreds of people are still trapped in the flood waters," Baluchistan minister for coastal areas Sher Jan says. The dam was full to the brim at the time it burst, washing away a passenger bus and killing 20 people, he says.