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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Iraq's Nineveh province declares state of emergency following flash flooding  

War-torn areas more vulnerable to extreme weather due to damaged infrastructure

Iraqi authorities on Sunday declared a state of emergency after flash flooding and torrential rainfall battered Nineveh, further exacerbating the plight of the war-torn province.

In a statement, the provincial government urged "residents to stay away from the valley corridor as rescue teams are trying to take people out of the flooded areas".

Rainfall swept through several districts inside Nineveh's capital Mosul, as well as the south of the province, where eyewitnesses said the water level had risen to seven meters in Gassab Valley.

Lawmaker Mansour Al Marid called for a joint committee to be established between Baghdad's central government, international organisation and the province's local council to develop plans to reconstruct the battered areas.

"The restoration of Mosul's city centre, infrastructure, including sewage systems must be addressed urgently to deal with the flooding situation," Mr Al Marid said.

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Officials are concerned about the families that are trapped in the flooded areas.

"Many homes and bridges, in the old city of Mosul, have been hit by the floods, there are hundreds of families trapped in the neighbourhood of Al Arabi and the Shurta in Mosul city as well as the village of Shuwairat in the south," civil defence chief, Karim Al Obeidi said. Mr Al Obeidi urged civilians to stay at home.

The floods have highlighted the urgent need for reconstruction in areas damaged during the three year war against ISIS.

Questions have also been raised over who should be held responsible for the poor infrastructure.

"I think the old city in particular was hugely hit as the sewage system was poorly fixed after the liberation battle," Ali Al Baroodi, a university lecturer and photographer based in Mosul told The National.

Last month, the floods killed dozens of people and displaced tens of thousands, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

An estimated 10,000 people in Salahuddin and 15,000 people in Nineveh are in need of assistance, including thousands of families living in IDP camps, OCHA said, adding that the Shirqat district in Salahuddin, and Qayyarah Airstrip and Jeddah IDP camps in Nineveh, are among the worst affected.