04/12/2019, 12.11
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Iraq, record rains: dams and rivers at bursting point

The situation, especially in the north, is beginning to worry experts and authorities. The Tharthar basin has a reached a level "never seen" in over 60 years. Two bridges in Mosul submerged by water. The closure of kiosks and businesses near the river. AsiaNews sources: "exceptional" events.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - The level of water in the dams and reservoirs of Iraq has reached a record level, never reached before in the country's history. And this due to recent heavy rains, the tail end of phenomena that have caused very serious damage in neighboring Iran.

The situation, especially in the north, is beginning to cause concern and thousands of families risk having to abandon their homes and lands, for the real risk of serious flooding.

Weeks of heavy rainfall, exacerbated by the melting of snow in Turkey and Iran, have almost filled the four basins of Iraq and inflated the course of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In Samarra, north of Baghdad, water is diverted to Lake Tharthar, a natural reservoir used to aid runoff.

In Samarra, north of Baghdad, water is being diverted into the natural reservoir at Tharthar Lake in amounts unseen in decades, said dam chief Kareem Hassan.  "Today, the Tharthar barrage is seeing the highest levels of water passing through in its history," Hassan told AFP.

"We haven't seen such levels pass through the structure since it was founded in 1956, so 63 years."

The Dukan dam in the northeast also "had not witnessed water levels this high since 1988," said manager Hama Taher, calling on people living nearby to leave.

AsiaNews sources in northern Iraq confirm the gravity of the situation, in a context of rains "of exceptional magnitude, way above normal". "In many cities, such as Mosul, Dohuk, Erbil there is damage and the dams are full. The risk of flooding is real, especially if the next melting of winter snows is added to the rains ”. The floods, the source concludes, risk creating particular hardships "in the refugee camps and in the tent cities on the outskirts of Mosul and in the plain".

The authorities have already started mobilizing to face a possible emergency. Excess water should be stored in some reservoirs in anticipation of the dry season, in the summer months. They also forbade farmers to plant crops that need large amounts of water to produce fruit.

In the northern metropolis of the country, long a stronghold of the Islamic State (SI, formerly Isis), the river has submerged two bridges connecting the eastern and western sectors, leaving cars and trucks loaded with blocked goods. The owners of kiosks and commercial facilities near the waterways have been forced to close and leave, due to the danger of sudden flooding. The enormous flow of the rivers is one of the factors that caused the sinking of a ferry last month near Mosul, where about a hundred people died.

Damage and disruption are also recorded in the south: in the village of Huweidi, near Basra, over 8 thousand hectares of agricultural land have been flooded; hundreds of families are displaced in the province of Missan, another 2 thousand risk eviction in the coming days. UN officials have had to deliver aid using ships and boats, because the roads are impassable.

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