Iraq’s Mosul Dam is failing

The Mosul Dam is Iraq’s largest dam. It is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people. If the dam ruptured, it would likely cause a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, loosing a wave as high as a hundred feet that would roll down the Tigris, swallowing everything in its path for more than a hundred miles. Large parts of Mosul would be submerged in less than three hours. Along the riverbanks, towns and cities containing the heart of Iraq’s population would be flooded; in four days, a wave as high as sixteen feet would crash into Baghdad, a city of six million people.

2016.12.28 dam2.smallSince civilization dawned in the Middle East, five and a half thousand years ago, the region’s politics and economy have centered on its two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The rivers, which enter Iraq from the north and converge two hundred and fifty miles south of Baghdad, form an extraordinarily fertile valley in an otherwise dry part of the world. For centuries, populations flourished by tilling the rich alluvial soil left behind each spring by floodwaters receding from the plains between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. But the rivers also wreaked havoc, delivering too much water or not enough, and the settlements on their banks lurched between periods of drought and flood.


» A bigger problem than ISIS? (The New Yorker, 2 January 2017 issue)

» Mosul dam engineers warn it could fail at any time, killing 1m people (The Guardian, 2 March 2016)


2016.12.28 Aerial view of Mosul Dam.small   2016.12.28 dam.small