Syria calls for urgent disaster aid after 10 killed in dam burst

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 05 Jun 2002
HAMA, Syria, June 5 (AFP) - Syria asked for urgent international aid Wednesday for "victims of the disaster" caused by the collapse of a dam in the north of the country, which killed at least 10 people.

The offical SANA news agency said the authorities had contacted United Nations representative in Damascus Tufic ben Amara "for him to ask specialist international organisations to provide urgent aid for the victims of the disaster".

State television meanwhile put the death toll at 10 after Tuesday's collapse of the Zeyzoun dam in the northern province of Hama, which devastated five villages and surrounding farmland.

A resident of Ziyara, one of the villages, said the dead included two women, two children and an employee of the dam, Syria's fourth largest.

AFP correspondents at the scene saw hundreds of homes destroyed or badly damaged in the villages of Mshik, Karkur, Kastun, Zeyzoun and Ziyara, 90 kilometres (55 miles) northwest of Hama.

While inhabitants either fled or were evacuated to higher ground, the bodies of farm animals lay in the streets, along with mattresses, domestic appliances and other articles of furniture.

Zeyzoun's 140 homes were totally under water. Fields of beet, cotton and wheat were also flooded for some 60 kilometres (37 miles) downstream from the dam on the Orontes river.

SANA said 15 rescue teams of 15 people, two ambulances and a fire engine each were at the scene. Helicopters were also deployed, authorities said.

Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa Miro went to the scene late Tuesday to coordinate rescue efforts. He promised that the victims would be compensated and ordered an inquiry commission to be set up, SANA said.

The dam, with a capacity of 70 million cubic metres (2.472 billion cubic feet), burst soon after cracks appeared in the structure, SANA said.

Built in 1995 it was 43 metres (141 feet) high and five kilometres (three miles) long.

na-feb/mb AFP

Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 06/05/2002 07:38:27

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