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Iraq's Mosul Dam faces failure, disaster, U.S. Embassy says

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 29, 2016 at 11:50 AM

BAGHDAD, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- The Mosul Dam, above the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Baghdad on the Tigris River, faces a possible catastrophic failure, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad warned Monday.

It referred to the risk as "serious and unprecedented."

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"We have no specific information that indicates when a breach might occur."

The 2 mile-long dam holds back up to 2.7 cubic miles of water, and if it gave way a 10 foot high wall of water would inundate Mosul and flood Baghdad, in an area of nearly 1.5 million inhabitants.

The dam was seized by Islamic State militants in August 2014, and was quickly returned to Iraqi government control by Kurdish and Iraqi troops, with help from U.S. airstrikes.

The embassy stressed preparation in the event of a failure but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi downplayed the possibility of a disaster, calling it "unlikely." He said the dam is maintained regularly and a World Bank-funded rehabilitation program is in the works.

He suggested, though, that those living near the Tigris River prepare to move to higher ground in the event of an emergency.

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