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70,000 lives imperiled by imminent dam failure in Puerto Rico

23 Sep 2017 | By Abheet Sethi
Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico

A failing dam in the Hurricane Maria-hit island of Puerto Rico has caused "extremely dangerous" flooding, leading to emergency evacuations.

The Guajataca Dam's "imminent failure" is a "life-threatening situation," the National Weather Service (NWS) has warned.

Over 70,000 people reside in the nearby Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities.

The Category-four Maria has killed 13 people in Puerto Rico and left the entire island without electricity.

In context: Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico

23 Sep 201770,000 lives imperiled by imminent dam failure in Puerto Rico

ImpactDam failure leads to flash floods, emergency evacuations

Operators said the structure of the Guajataca Dam in northwest Puerto Rico started showing signs of failing at 14:10 local time.

This led to flash floods emergency in Isabela and Quebradillas.

The NWS has urged residents in the region to "move to higher ground now."

Several people who live close to the dam are being evacuated by buses.

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Most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in a century

DevastationMost powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in a century

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello said Maria was the worst hurricane to hit the island, home to 3.4 million people, in a century.

The capital San Juan was battered with winds of up to 225km/h which uprooted roofs and trees.

It may take months to restore electricity in Puerto Rico.

US President Donald Trump said the island has been "totally obliterated" by Hurricane Maria.

Trail of destructionHurricane Maria devastates Caribbean

Hurricane Maria has been downgraded to a category three storm and is now moving away after pummelling the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.

Maria has led to over 30 deaths across the region, which was already reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

Maria caused widespread destruction and flooding in Dominica earlier this week.