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At least 5 dead, hundreds of homes severely damaged as major floods hit Iraq

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Days of torrential rains caused massive floods in parts of Iraq on March 18, 2020, causing major damage and claiming the lives of at least 5 people. The Kurdistan region's Duhok governorate was among the worst-hit, with more than 300 homes damaged, as well as dozens of cars piled up across muddy streets. In the Niniveh governorate, the city of Mosul recorded about 124 mm (4.9 inches) of rain in 24 hours, which is more than its average for the entire month of March.

A wave of heavy downpour triggered violent floods in several areas of Duhok, damaging more than 300 residential areas and the governorate's main market.

Initial reports said four bridges connecting Duhok to other districts collapsed.

Civil defense teams rescued 21 families from their flooded homes, and motorists stuck in their vehicles. Among the rescued citizens were a father and son who were left stuck on a hill.

In the Mosul city in the Niniveh governorate, around 124 mm (4.9 inches) of rain fell in a 24-hour period to March 18, inundating streets. The amount was more than the city and the governorate's average rainfall for the month of March — 95 mm (3.7 inches) and 91 mm (3.6 inches), respectively.

Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) said there were serious damages and a large number of people displaced in the central and northern regions, including a number of camps for internally displaced persons.

The province of Diyala was also hit by heavy rains, resulting in the death of five members from the same family in Baqubah city after their house collapsed. All victims were identified as women.

Raad Dahlaki, the MP for Diyala province, said the women "have been the victims of the government's continual marginalization of the displaced after their house– made of clay bricks– collapsed due to heavy rain."

He added, "This incident is clear evidence of the size of the humanitarian issue of displaced people, which the previous government cast to the side."

Moreover, Dahlaki said they will keep track of the case as the family is survived by two women, Banin and Hanin, adding that the incident was a "humiliation for all governments."

IHCHR said many parts of Niniveh, Salah ad-Din, and Diyala had to deal with 'tragic conditions'. Some hospitals and health centers in Niniveh were also hit amid this crucial time, hampering efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, the commission warned of a 'health-environmental double disaster,' as people struggle with the impacts of both the severe weather and the pandemic.

Senior officials from the Kurdistan region pledged to provide around 2.5 million dollars in emergency relief for the affected families in the cities of Duhok and Zakho.

Featured image credit: IOM Iraq

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