US warns of possible 'catastrophic' Mosul Dam collapse

United States calls on UN to act quickly to prevent 'humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions' caused by possible collapse of Mosul Dam

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Employees work at strengthening the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, February 3, 2016.

The United States and Iraq on Wednesday organised a meeting of high-ranking diplomats and United Nation’s officials to discuss the possible collapse of Iraq's Mosul hydro-electric dam.

The US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power indicated that the collapse would create a "humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions" and called on UN members to take steps as soon as possible.

"It is crucial that all UN member states quickly get informed about the magnitude of the problem and the importance of readiness to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions," said Power.

Concerns are increasing over a crack in Iraq’s largest dam and at least 1.5 million people are at grave risk.

"In the event of a breach, there is the potential in some places for a flood wave up to 14 meters high that could sweep up everything in its path, including people, cars, unexploded ordnance, waste and other hazardous material, further endangering massive population centres that lie in the flood path," said Power in a statement.

The dam was established on an unsteady foundation that continually wears off. After the DAESH terror organisation briefly seized the dam in 2014, fears increased over the possibility that the group might destroy it.

Peshmerga fighters guard Mosul Dam in August 2014. (Reuters)

Italian firm Trevi has been selected to start maintenance and repair works on the structure which is currently protected by Peshmerga fighters.

The deal between the Iraqi government and the company is worth $296 million and is aimed at strengthening and maintaining the dam for the next 18 months.

Italy announced that it has considered deploying 450 soldiers to protect the dam, which is 3.4 km (2.1 miles) long and not far from the DAESH-held area.

The barrage also provides electricity for nearly 1.7 million residents in Mosul.

TRTWorld and agencies