Filipinos in Baghdad urged to register with embassy amid fears of dam collapse

By , on March 11, 2016

(Photo: Google Maps)
(Photo: Google Maps)

MANILA—The Philippine Embassy in Iraq has called on Filipinos working in Baghdad and other cities along the Tigris River floodplain to register with the diplomatic post as part of the contingency measures that are being put in place in the event of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq.

Recently, the Iraqi Government urged the almost 1.5 million people living along the Tigris to consider relocating to areas more than six kilometers from the river to ensure their safety in the event the dam collapses.

“We reiterate our request to our kababayans, especially those in Baghdad, to please register with the embassy so that we would know where they are and how to reach them in case of an emergency,” Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said. “As much as possible, we would not want to leave anyone behind.”

The embassy, Cato said, first issued an advisory in January after the United States warned that the dam, one of the biggest in the world in terms of reservoir capacity, is in danger of collapsing due to faulty construction. The US Embassy in Baghdad said that if the dam fails, it could unleash an inland tsunami that could sweep away from 500,000 to 1.5 million people.

There are around 300 Filipinos in Baghdad.

According to a fact sheet released by the US Embassy “flood water could reach depths greater than 45 feet in some parts of Mosul City in as little as one to four hours, giving residents little time to flee; flood water could reach Tikrit in one to two days; flood water could reach Baghdad in three to four days and have depths of up to 33 feet in the river channel.”

“The flood wave would resemble an inland tidal wave between Mosul and Samarra, and would sweep downstream anything in its path, including bodies, buildings, cars, unexploded ordinances, hazardous chemicals, and waste,” the US embassy warned. “Flooding south of Samarra would resemble that of Hurricane Katrina.”

Cato appealed to families in the Philippines with relatives working in Iraq to convince them to register with the embassy, noting that many appear hesitant because of their mistaken notion that they will be forcibly repatriated because of the current Alert Level 4 status in Iraq.

“We want to assure our people and their families in the Philippines that this is not the case. We are doing this to make sure we would be able to bring our people out of harm’s way,” Cato said.

Filipinos in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq can register online through the website of the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad.

They could also email the Department of Foreign Affairs or call +964-750-010-4728 and +964-750-656-1740.