Employees work at strengthening the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, in this file picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
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Despite intense U.S. pressure to act to keep Iraq's largest dam from collapsing, Baghdad has done little to prepare Iraqis for the possibility of a burst that could unleash a flood reaching the capital and killing hundreds of thousands of people. The government signed a $296 million contract with Italy's Trevi Group last month to reinforce northern Iraq's fragile Mosul Dam, but it has not announced any specific plans to try to rescue people in the event of a breach or instructed them in detail how to react safely.Instead, Iraqi authorities have downplayed the threat.Baghdad updated a 2006 evacuation plan last year that calls for moving people to the southern provinces, a government source briefed on Mosul Dam planning said last month.Efforts to repair the 3.5 kilometer-long hydroelectric dam – which lies about 48 kilometers 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 prove correct; and a cultural divide, U.S. and Iraqi officials and analysts have said.Fears in Washington that Iraqi forces might blow up the dam during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion resurfaced in 2014 when Daesh briefly captured it before being pushed off by coalition airstrikes and Kurdish peshmerga fighters.
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