Sardoba Dam in Uzbekistan failed on May 1, leading to the immediate evacuation of 11,600 people downstream, multiple news agencies are reporting.
The dam, on the Sirdaryo River in the Sirdaryo region, was completed in 2017 after seven years of work. It impounds 922 million cubic meters of water, used to irrigate agricultural lands in the Sirdaryo and Jizzakh provinces.
A gap formed in one section of the 29-m-high concrete structure, sending water rushing downstream toward nearby villages. Uzbek officials are reported to have said they fear the breach, which weakened the structure, could cause the entire dam to collapse.
RadioFreeEurope reported May 3 that Uzbek authorities launched a criminal probe into the incident. The news service reported at least 70,000 people have been evacuated and more than 50 people hospitalized. In addition, more than 600 homes in southern Kazakhstan have been flooded. The probe is reported to be focused on “official negligence” and construction rules violations.
Uzbekistan is reported to have signed a contract with China, with a $23 million value, to add a hydroelectric powerhouse at the dam, to be completed in 2022. The generating capacity of this project was not disclosed.