Almost 1.5 million Iraqis are in danger of being killed by a wall of water if the dismally maintained Mosul dam collapses, a former senior government engineer who was once in charge of the country’s dam system warned on Thursday.
While the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has sought to downplay the risk of a collapse of the country’s largest dam, earlier this week it advised many residents of the heavily populated Tigris River valley to move at least 3.5 miles away from its riverbanks.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said a collapse of the dam in the north of country would be “serious and unprecedented.” Some 500,000 and 1.47 million Iraqis would “probably would not survive” the wave, while water could reach depths of 45 feet in the nearby city of Mosul, it said in a statement.
Cities downstream on the Tigris River such as Tikrit, Samarra and the Iraqi capital Baghdad could be inundated with smaller, but still significant levels in the event of a breach, U.S. officials warned on Sunday.
Read more: NBC News