Warnings extended for Puerto Rico's Guajataca Dam, in danger of collapse

By Sara Shayanian  |  Sept. 25, 2017 at 8:42 AM
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Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Warnings that Puerto Rico's Guajataca Dam could fail were extended into Monday afternoon, as few people evacuated the area.

Rains from Hurricane Maria have put the dam in danger of collapsing.

Warnings from the National Weather Service for the dam have been extended through 2 p.m. EST on Monday. If the dam gives way, it could bring for life-threatening flash-flooding downstream of the Rio Guajataca. Riverbanks and surrounding areas could become unstable and unsafe.

The NWS cautioned residents surrounding the dam to "stay away or be swept away," and to "stay away from evacuated areas until told by emergency officials it is safe to return."

Nearly 70,000 people could be in danger if the dam failed, however, only 200 had actually evacuated according to authorities.

The news comes after the initial discovery of the fissure on Friday when the NWS declared that the dam was failing and declared flash-flood emergencies for the towns of Isabela and Quebradillas

The Guajataca Dam, which holds back a lake covering 2 square miles, was completed in 1927 and last inspected in October 2013.

At least 10 people have died in Puerto Rico due to Maria, the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory since 1928.

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