Iraq’s Mosul dam is showing signs of collapse, threatening to engulf the entire city and displace millions of people.
Iraqi and Italian engineers are working round the clock to complete major renovations over the next 18 months. If the dam bursts, it threatens to unleash an entire manmade lake onto Iraq’s second largest city, threatening the livelihoods of millions of Iraqis.
“It is just a matter of time. It will be worse than throwing a nuclear bomb on Iraq,” Mosul damn expert Nadhir al-Ansari told Al-Jazeera. Ansari elaborated that the ground supporting the foundation of the dam is rife with sinkholes and inherently unstable. Iraqi environmental expert Azzam al-Wash echoed Ansari’s concern saying “this is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound and pretending that everything is going to be all right.”
The round-the-clock required maintenance on the dam stopped after Islamic State terrorists briefly seized it in August 2014. The ensuing U.S. effort to push out the terrorists and resume day-to-day operations took months, and an Italian company was immediately contracted to rebuild the dam’s foundation.
The U.S. Department of State considers the dam so dangerous, it issued a February 2016 warning to citizens saying “a dam failure would cause significant flooding and interruption of essential services.” The warning continues “some models estimate that Mosul could be inundated by as much as 70 feet (21 meters) of water within hours of the breach.”
The dam was a pet infrastructure project of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who insisted on building it on an unstable riverbed. Saddam considered the surrounding villagers loyal Sunni’s, and thought the project should reward their community.
“The reality of a deluge of almost biblical proportions rushing down the Tigris River, killing millions of people, is very apparent and time is running out,” a panel of scientific experts gathered in Rome said in April 2015.
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