ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Over a dozen casualties and the flooding of thousands of homes and buildings have been reported so far on Friday after hours of relentless torrential rainfall continued in various parts of Iraq.
Many areas in the country witnessed heavy overnight rainstorms that lasted several hours, later building up to substantial floods that have left roads and houses covered in water.
Post-rain floods are a perennial issue in Iraq, caused in large part by chronically inadequate infrastructure, including inefficient or poorly-maintained urban rainwater management and sewage systems.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health said in a statement that at least four people, including a woman and a child, were killed by floods that hit villages in the al-Shirqat district of Salahuddin Province.
An area medical source told Kurdistan 24 that the total number of flood victims inside the town of Shirqat was seven people; five children and two women.
Local media outlets reported that the mayor of Shirqat had announced that as many as 3,000 homes had been at least partially submerged due to the heavy flooding, blamed in part on rising levels of the Tigris River, which cuts through the district and the town.
A large number of residents were reported trapped in their homes north of Shirqat, in a low-lying valley area especially susceptible to flooding that includes the villages of al-Hurriya, al-Jarnaf, al-Khadhraniyah, and al-Suidan.
Iraqi security forces have been deployed to rescue families affected by the rainwater, as reports continue to indicate additional instances of missing persons.
Near the town of Altun Kupri (Pirde), north of Kirkuk, floodwaters surrounded a unit of Peshmerga in their encampment, cutting off their movement and supplies. Later, a joint mission of Peshmerga and Iraqi federal police mounted a rescue operation and retrieved all of them, unharmed.
The flooding affected cities in the south of the country as well. In Basra's al-Jumaa neighborhood, a two-year-old girl died and two others were wounded after a house collapsed as a result of the rainwater late Thursday night, Basra-based al-Marbad radio reported.
In the province of Dhi Qar, immediately northwest of Basra, local media outlets reported that a woman and her child were also killed after the roof of their house collapsed in the al-Rafa'i district, just north of Nasiriyah, the provincial capital.
Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi later commanded the formation of a team from the local governments of multiple provinces to deal with the "crisis" created to "supervise rescue operations to minimize human and material losses," according to a statement by the PM's office.
Editing by John J. Catherine