U.S. Advises Iraqi Citizens to Prepare to Leave if Mosul Dam Collapses

By Cheri Cheng - 29 Feb '16 16:24PM

The United States has advised Iraqi citizens to be prepared to leave the country if the Mosul dam, which is the largest hydro-electric dam in the country, collapses.

"We have no specific information that indicates when a breach might occur, but out of an abundance of caution, we would like to underscore that prompt evacuation offers the most effective tool to save lives of the hundreds of thousands of people," the security message said.

According to the U.S. estimates, reported by Reuters, if the dam breaks, as much as 70 feet of water could engulf Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities that is currently under the control of the Islamic State, within the first few hours. After 24 to 72 hours, cities that are located downstream of the Tigris River, which include Iraq's capital, Baghdad, could also be affected.

The U.S. Embassy reported that 500,000 to 1.47 million people live by the river.

"Proper preparation could save many lives," the embassy said reported by CNN.

Contrary to the U.S, the Iraqi government's warning was less extreme. In a statement released Sunday, the government informed citizens who live along the Tigris River to move at least 3.7 miles away from the banks.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that the chances that a scenario described by the U.S. could occur are "extremely small." The country's minister of water resources had said earlier this month that the likelihood of the dam collapsing was "one in a thousand."

An Italian construction company is currently under contract to make repairs to the dam.

The dam is under the control of the Iraqi government. ISIS, another term for the Islamic State, had seized control of the dam for a very short period of time in August 2014.

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