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Failure fear for Puerto Rico dam

Residents downstream from Puerto Rico’s Guajataca Dam have been ordered to evacuate after part of the spillway collapsed raising concerns that the main earth embankment structure could fail.

The dam was overtopped after heavy rainfall from Hurricane Maria and 70,000 people living in the valley below were ordered to leave their home over fears of “imminent collapse”.

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosello said that a fissure in the structure “has become a significant rupture”.

The earth embankment dam was built in 1929 to supply the region with water and hydroelectricity and was last inspected in 2013. The reservoir has a capacity of 42.3M.m3 of water.

Puerto Rico’s national weather services have said that, should the dam fail, the resulting flooding would be life-threatening.

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