VIDEO: Italian Team Prepares to Fix Crumbling Iraqi Mosul Dam after Pushing Daesh Away

Tue Apr 19, 2016 18:17:50

A team of Italian engineers arrived at the Mosul dam site in northern Iraq on Tuesday (April 19) as part of an emergency campaign to repair the dam.

Iraq has signed a contract with Italy's Trevi Group worth 273 million euros (US$296 million) to reinforce and maintain the Mosul dam for 18 months.

The Italian team is also preparing a camp on site to house scores of engineers and military personnel, which could take months to build.

Mosul dam has sustained structural flaws since its construction in the 1980s, built on a highly unstable land.

American and local officials have repeatedly warned, it is at serious risk of collapse.

The potential catastrophe could unleash a deadly flood that would sink cities around the heavily populated Tigris River valley.

According to US official figures, approximately 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis live in the flood path.

Italy has said it planned to send 450 troops to protect the site of the dam, which is 3.6 km (2.2 miles) long and close to territory held by Islamic State (Daesh / ISIS) militants.

The manager of the Dam, engineer Riyadh Izeddin says their equipment is old and desperately needs an upgrade. He says the Italian company, The Trevi Group, will not only make help to repair the dam but will also train local staff.

"We hope that expertise and advanced technology of the Italian Trevi Group would be transferred to the Iraqi staff.

We also hope that the group will bring advanced equipment and machinery to Mosul Dam and train the Iraqi staff to use them to help them gain expertise that enables them to carry out repair work after the departure of foreign companies.

Furthermore, we need foreign companies' help to fix and repair the lower gates of the dam because one of the gates is not working and it needs import special parts, which are unavailable in Iraq's local markets," says Riyadh Izeddin.

Maintenance of the dam was suspended after Islamic State (Daesh / ISIS) seized the dam in August 2014, scattering workers and destroying equipment.

It was taken two weeks later by Iraqi government forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes.

There is no sign that a breach of the dam is imminent, but many experts warn it's a disaster waiting to happen. Efforts to repair the dam - which lies about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of the city of Mosul - have been handicapped by Iraq's chaotic security situation; political divisions in Baghdad; years of previous warnings that did not come true; and a cultural divide, U.S. and Iraqi officials and analysts said.

S/SH 11

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