Flash floods in Iraq's Erbil kill 11

Area hit by second wave of flooding in less than a month

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At least 11 people have died in flash floods caused by heavy rain in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Videos on social media showed cars being swept away and debris floating down streets.

Heavy rain fell on Thursday evening outside the city of Erbil, the capital of the region, Governor Omeed Khoshnao said.

In a Facebook post, he said more rain was expected and asked people to stay off the roads in and outside the city to allow rescue teams access.

"One died struck by lightning, while the others drowned in their homes," said civil defence representative Sarkawt Karach.

Among the dead were three members of the same family and two foreigners. A 10-month-old who was swept from her father's arms by the rushing water has yet to be located.

Residents inspect the damage in the area of Daratu, on the outskirts of Erbil. AFP

"Searches are ongoing for missing people," Karach said, warning that the death toll could still rise.

It is the second time in less than a month that heavy rains and floods have hit the region.

Iraq has endured blistering temperatures and repeated droughts in recent years, but has also experienced intense floods, made worse when torrential rain falls on sun-baked earth.

Hard ground, compounded by vegetation loss, means the earth does not absorb water as quickly, and when storms hit, they can become flash floods.

Scientists say climate change amplifies extreme weather, including droughts as well as the potential for the increased intensity of rain storms.

Experts have warned that record low rainfall, compounded by climate change, are threatening social and economic disaster in war-scarred Iraq.

Updated: December 18, 2021, 5:44 PM
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