The risk of Iraq’s largest dam collapsing and unleashing a huge wave onto Mosul is affecting plans to retake the city from jihadists, an adviser to the prime minister’s office said.
The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to recapture the northern city, the largest urban center in the Islamic State (ISIS) group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
Concern has grown that a failure of the unstable dam, which stands about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the city, could wipe out most of Mosul and flood large parts of Baghdad.
The Americans “frequently refer to Katrina” and say a collapse of the Mosul Dam would be “a thousand times worse,” an adviser to the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged the US city of New Orleans in 2005, killing nearly 2,000 people and leading to a wave of violence and looting that completely overwhelmed the authorities.
“If the dam busts, the center of Mosul goes under water by about a 40-50 foot wave (12 to 15 meters),” the adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It just disappears, so 500,000 people (are) killed within a few hours,” he said.
He said another dam in Samarra, hundreds of miles downstream, would also burst. It is estimated the wave would still be several meters high when it reaches Baghdad.