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Torrential rain causes flooding in Iraq villages


08:28, February 01, 2013

TIKRIT, Iraq, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of villages have been swept by floods in the north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday.

Days of torrential rain in northern and central Iraq caused Tigris' river flood, destroying thousands of houses and sweeping traffic roads and bridges.

"The water in Tigris River rose to more than five meters, which is the highest in the country since more than 50 years," Mahmoud Salih, an expert in water resources, told Xinhua.

"The water reached the highest level on Thursday noon and has submerged whole villages near the cities of Shirqat, Baiji, Alam, Tikrit and Samarra in Salahudin province," Salih said.

So far, Salahudin's provincial government declared at least four villages as disaster areas after the flooding water rose to about three meters and totally covered the houses, Salih added.

In the city of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, some 170 km north of Baghdad, authorities blocked the main bridge in the city over the river for fear that the flood and strong flow could destroy the bridge, he said.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Nasih Mohammed Sabir, chief of the civil defense police in Iraq's northern Kirkuk province, said that ten mud houses in rural areas and some 50 houses in the provincial capital city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, have collapsed due to three days of rain.

"We have seen heavy rainfall during the past three days, and our teams are in high alert to help those people who have their houses collapsed. We have no human casualties," Sabir told reporters.

Iraq has been witnessing heavy rainfall this winter. On Dec. 25, 2012, several hours of heavy rainfall, which said to be the heaviest in 30 years, in central and southern Iraq pushed the government to announce the next day a holiday due to floods in Baghdad and some other cities.

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