Aftershocks in Iraq and cracks appear in dam

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BAGHDAD: Iraq recorded more than 60 aftershocks following Sunday’s powerful main earthquake, in which many people died, hundreds were injured and dozens of homes were destroyed.

Cracks also appeared in the Darbandikhan Dam on the Diyala River in northern Sulaymaniyah governorate, but the local mayor said the risk of its collapsing was “remote.”

Darbandikhan town in Iraqi Kurdistan is the closest inhabited area to the quake’s epicenter and suffered most of the casualties. More than 35 homes and a three-floor complex were severely damaged, and people were asked to move to safety as the area is still at risk from aftershocks.

“The situation is under control now but there is a fear of aftershocks, as many of the houses are located beneath the dam,” Nasseh Mulla Hassan, the mayor, told Arab News on Monday.

“The technical committee sent by Baghdad today to examine the dam showed that the quake caused damage, but there is no risk of its collapse at the moment.”

Other dams in Iraq were also damaged, but Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s office said: “The dams are safe and there is no danger.”

Al-Abadi held a series of meetings with concerned departments on Monday to address potential threats, and formed committees to assess the damage. Civil defense teams, local police and hospitals across the country were put on high alert.

Fadhil Ibrahim, general director of meteorology and seismic monitoring in the Kurdistan Region, told Arab News that aftershocks continued to be felt with a magnitude of 3 to 4.5, compared with the initial tremor’s 7.3.

“They are not expected to be any stronger but they will continue for two weeks or a month until the region is stabilized,” he said.

“The danger still exists because the aftershocks are near the seismic center in the region.”

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