BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The Government of Azerbaijan has begun to catalogue the personal fears of its people living downstream from the imperiled Sarsang Reservoir - the structure revealed by engineers and hydrologists to be in "emergency condition" following years of neglect by occupying Armenia.
The 125 metre high dam, which holds back a 12 kilometre long lake, was seized by Armenian troops during the Nagorno-Karabakh war with Azerbaijan more than two decades ago. It is now well overdue for essential maintenance, prompting experts to create models of what might happen if it fails.
They have pointed out that more than 400,000 people in six downstream provinces are at risk. As a result, the concerns of those affected - both inside Armenian occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan - are finally being made public.
Elshan Huseynov lives in Barda city, which say engineers would be hit by a wall of water moving at between 100km/h to 200km/h within 45 minutes of the dam collapsing.
"When this dam was built (in the 1970s) we at least knew it was being looked after but once I found out how the Armenians have failed to look after it, I became worried for my family," he said.
"In this region alone we're told the flood would result in 20,000 hectares underwater. There will be nowhere for us to go."
Engineers say the flood would arrive in the Tartar region in just 20 to 25 minutes, something that worries resident Hajar Yusif Yusifzade.
"In Azerbaijan-controlled territory they are coming up with new evacuation plans but that doesn't help us here (in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh). No one cares about our homes and families. We're on our own," he said.
Others contacted say that while they are naturally worried about the Sarsang Reservoir, they welcome the fact that it is pushing their plight back into the international spotlight.
"The world has forgotten about us," said Xalis Xalilov from Havarli.
"If this is what it takes to make the world take note again, then so be it."
The Government of Azerbaijan has announced its "Prevention of Sarsang Humanitarian Danger" strategy to deal with the possibility of the dam's collapse, which involves highlighting the problem within the United Nations, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers and the OSCE - bodies that have all passed resolutions against Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor