Millions in IS-occupied Iraq threatened with catastrophic dam collapse

Baghdad, May 8 (IANS) Iraqi and US diplomats have warned of a serious danger to millions of people around the giant Mosul dam, which was undergoing repairs and could breach at any moment, releasing a killer flood wave capable of wiping out entire cities and even flooding Baghdad.

Just as the UN has warned of up to 2 million people projected to be displaced in Iraq this year by the fighting with Islamic State, an even more apocalyptic threat looms in the country’s largest dam on the Tigris River, which, according to TASS, could affect up to 6 million people, with as many as 2 million of them living in and around Mosul.

Iraq’s permanent representative to the UN Mohamed Ali Alhakim warned residents in and around the area of the Mosul Dam that it is in imminent danger of collapse, while describing the steps the Iraqi government had undertaken to lower the water level there.

The Iraqi government took important precaution measures, having lowered the water level in the reservoir behind the dam to 307 meters. We called upon our citizens to be alert and cautious,” he said Friday, advising locals to “determine the safe distance from the dam in case it collapses.”

The Mosul Dam can hold up to 12.5 million cubic meters of water, and could flood swaths of land in the north of the country. In the worst case scenario, it would literally release a wall of water and debris, first burying the city of Mosul, which lies only 64 kms from the facility, and rolling up to 400 kms south, even reaching the capital.

The IS-occupied northern Iraqi city is currently home to between 750,000 and 2 million inhabitants, according to varying estimates. Before it was overrun by terrorists in 2014, its population was thought to be some 2.5 million people.

The US Embassy in Iraq on Sunday warned of a “serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning” at the dam.

In February, the US estimated the number of possible casualties from 500,000 to 1.47 million people residing in the most dangerous area of the flood path, if they are not evacuated in time.

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