Iraq – Deadly Flash Floods in Erbil, Kurdistan

At least 8 people have died and more are feared missing after flash floods struck in the city of Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, for the second time in 6 weeks.

Flood damage in Erbil, December 2021. Photo: Erbil Civil Defence

Authorities said heavy rain began to fall late on 16 December 2021, causing floods in the city of Erbil and surrounding areas of Erbil governorate early the following day. Cars, buses and trucks were swept along streets in a repeat of the flash floods that struck in Erbil in late October this year.

As of 17 December, 8 fatalities were reported, including 7 people who drowned in flood water and one person who died from a lightning strike. More are feared missing and search and rescue operations are ongoing. Officials urged residents to stay off the roads and avoid flooded areas. As of late 17 December the flood waters had receded and authorities had started to clear flood debris in affected areas.

Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said in a statement:

“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of lives and damage caused by last night’s heavy rain and flood. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and all those affected. I’ve instructed all government agencies to provide immediate support and relief to areas affected.”

Flood damage in Erbil, December 2021. Photo: Erbil Civil Defence