US Embassy Baghdad Issues Warning on Possible Collapse of Iraq’s Mosul Dam

Posted: 3:19 am EDT
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On February 29, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a Security Message to U.S. citizens in the country on planning for the possible collapse of the Mosul Dam, formerly known as Saddam Dam and the largest dam in Iraq.

The disruption of maintenance operations in 2014 increased the risk of the Mosul Dam collapsing.  The Government of Iraq (GOI) is preparing to initiate emergency maintenance operations to reduce the risk of failure.

A dam failure would cause significant flooding and interruption of essential services in low-lying areas along the Tigris River Valley from Mosul to Baghdad.  Some models estimate that Mosul could be inundated by as much as 70 feet (21 meters) of water within hours of the breach.  Downriver cities such as Tikrit, Samarra, and Baghdad could be inundated with smaller, but still significant levels of flooding within 24-72 hours of the breach.

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 living in the most dangerous part of the flood path in the event of a breach.  Proper preparation could save many lives.

 

The Telegraph reported in December last year that an Italian company, Trevi, won a $2 billion (£1.3 billion) contract to repair the dam and that the Italian government was prepared to send 500 troops to guard the Italian company’s employees who will be tasked to do repair work.  On February 29, a company spokesman confirmed to the Guardian that the contract still had not been signed and gave no expected signature date.

On February 28, the US Embassy in Baghdad also released a fact sheet on the dam:

The floodwave would resemble an in-land tidal wave between Mosul and Samarra’, and would sweep downstream anything in its path, including bodies, buildings, cars, unexploded ordinances, hazardous chemicals, and waste; less than 6 inches of moving water is strong enough to knock a person off his feet, and 16 inches of moving water can carry away most automobiles. Flooding south of Samarra would resemble that of Hurricane Katrina, with standing water that pervades much of Baghdad for weeks to months. As floodwaters recede, mud and waste-covered remnants of previous infrastructure will be left behind.

> Flood water could reach depths greater than 45 feet in some parts of Mosul City in as little as one to four hours, giving residents little time to flee.

> Flood water could reach Tikrit in one to two days.

> Flood water could reach Baghdad in three to four days and have depths of up to 33 feet in the river channel.

> Some parts of Baghdad would be flooded, which could include Baghdad International Airport.

Read in full here:

 

 

Embassy Baghdad notes that it would be “extremely limited in its ability to assist in the event of a crisis” and encouraged  U.S. citizens in Iraq, especially those who reside in the floodplain of the Tigris River to develop their personal contingency plans.

 

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India’s 4th most populous metro area turns into an island; USCG Chennai to close until Dec 7

Posted: 1:01 pm EDT
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USCG Chennai is headed by Phillip A. Min who assumed post last year. We’ve asked @USAmbIndia how USG employees are holding up in Chennai but have not received a response.  Post did issue an updated emergency message on December 4 saying that ConGen Chennai has sustained major flood damage, and is closed for all services Friday December 4 and Monday December 7. Travelers are asked to defer all travel to the area. The Ambassador to India Richard Verma tweeted that he is “Thinking of all in Chennai & monitoring situation closely – hoping for drier days ahead.”

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Via The Indian Express:

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said Chennai has turned into an island. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that. Since the day before, Chennai has been cut off from all national and state highways,” said Singh, responding to a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the flood situation in the country’s southern region. […] The minister added that in the 24 hours beginning December 1, 8.30 pm, Chennai has received 330 mm of rain, which exceeds the rain the city receives for the entire month of December, thereby “breaking a 100-year record”.

According to World Population Review, Chennai has an estimated population of 4.9 million, with an area that has grown from 176 square kilometers to 426 square kilometers after a 2011 expansion. The urban agglomeration, which includes the city and suburbs, has a population estimated at 9 million. This makes it the 4th most populous metropolitan area in India and the 31st largest urban area in the world.

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Related posts:

 

US Consulate General in Chennai Under Water

Posted: 6:37 pm EDT
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USCG Chennai “Braves” Flood, Plans to Open With Limited Staff –ZOMG! (Updated)

Posted: 2:58 am EDT
Updated: 12:39 pm EDT
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Update: USCG Chennai has now posted the following announcement: 

In the interest of public safety, and due to the flooding in Chennai, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai will be closed for normal Consular operations, including nonimmigrant visa appointments and non-emergency American Citizen Services (ACS), on Thursday, December 3, 2015 and Friday, December 4, 2015.

It has also issued an Emergency Message to U.S. citizens:

The city of Chennai and surrounding areas in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as the adjacent Union Territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry) have experienced very heavy rains in recent weeks resulting in localized flooding, which has been severe in some areas. The Adyar River has overflowed its banks and rains are expected to continue for several days. U.S. citizens visiting and residing in the area should exercise caution. All flights into and out of Chennai International Airport have been temporarily suspended until at least Thursday morning. Power has been cut throughout Chennai, though some hotels and businesses continue to operate with back-up generators. Most hotels that remain open report that they are at capacity. The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai remains open with minimal staffing but has temporarily suspended visa services and non-emergency services for U.S. citizens. Travelers should consider deferring non-essential travel to the area.

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Chennai is currently suffering its worst flooding in a hundred years. The deluge is forcing airport and factory closures in the city. The US Consulate in Chennai says it is tentatively planning to open with limited staff although it is “urging” applicants to reschedule their visa interviews. Folks … this would be where “out of an abundance of caution” would really work.

Chennai Post: Due to the flooding in Chennai, the U.S. Consulate in Chennai strongly urges applicants with visa appointments scheduled for Wednesday, December 2 not to come to their scheduled appointment. While the consulate is tentatively planning to open with extremely limited staff, wait times will be long and due to the potential for an unexpected closure, we cannot guarantee applicants who come will be interviewed. We encourage applicants to reschedule their existing appointments at the Visa Application Center for biometric enrolment and their interview appointment at the Consulate by logging in to their profile after 8.00 a.m. Thursday, December 3.
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Chennai Visa Application Center: Due to unexpected weather conditions, the Visa Application Center in Chennai will not be able to honour your Biometric appointment on December 2, 2015. You will have to reschedule your existing appointment at the Visa Application Center for your biometric enrolment and your interview appointment at the Consulate. There is no need to contact the call center or customer support—simply login to your profile and reschedule both of your appointments.

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US Embassy Tbilisi Warns of Severe Flooding, Escaped Zoo Animals

Posted: 3:26 pm  PDT
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On June 14, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia issued an emergency message warning U.S. citizens in Tbilisi of severe flooding as well as escaped zoo animals in the city:

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi informs U.S. citizens that flooding in Tbilisi last night caused significant damage, including several casualties. A number of zoo animals also escaped. Although some have been captured, others remain at large. There are numerous road closures around the city, including Heroes Square and parts of the river road. Residents should exercise caution and avoid affected areas, particularly those adjacent to the zoo.

The embassy also expressed sympathy for the casualties and readiness to assist the government:

The United States wishes to express its condolences to all those in Tbilisi who have suffered as a result of the devastating flooding over the past 24 hours. We mourn the loss of 12 lives. Ambassador Norland and Mayor Narmania spoke this afternoon. The Ambassador affirmed our readiness to assist the government and people as they mourn the dead, treat the injured, and assess the extensive losses and damage caused by this natural disaster.

More via Twitter:

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