Puerto Rico dam failure sparks evacuation of thousands

Ruth Doherty

A dam has failed in Puerto Rico causing flash floods that have sparked the evacuation of thousands of people from two towns.

The news comes after Puerto Rico was left devastated by Hurricane Maria.

See also: World famous airport destroyed by Hurricane Irma

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According to the Telegraph, the National Weather Service in San Juan warned people to get to higher ground as soon as possible, adding: "This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."

The dam is 345 yards long and hold back Lake Guajataca, which is a manmade reservoir covering two square miles in the north west of the island.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said the dam had suffered a "structural failure", and urged people living in Isabela and Quebradillas to flee.

The Daily Star reports that he added: "Close to 70,000 is the estimate of people that could be affected in the case of a collapse.

"We don't know the details. It's time to get people out."

The dam was built in 1929 and has a capacity of 11 billion gallons of water, making it a huge threat to life if it tops over with the rising waters caused by Hurricane Maria. It's believed residents are being evacuated by buses after the dam started to fail at 2.10pm local time on Friday.

According to the BBC, Mr Rossello called Maria the worst hurricane in a century, saying it could take months to restore electricity to all of the island's 3.4 million residents.

The 140mph winds battered Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan, ripping off roofs in its wake, and leaving more than 30 dead across the region.