Residents to evacuate due to dam failing in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-23 14:03:14|Editor: Xiang Bo
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Roughly 70,000 residents in Puerto Rico were urged to evacuate immediately on Friday, as a dam on the island is in imminent danger of failing because of damage by Hurricane Maria.

The U.S. National Weather Service warned on Friday that the 345-yard (about 315-meter) Guajataca Dam, northwest of the island's capital city of San Juan, was in danger of failing due to the landfall of Hurricane Maria.

The dam suffered a "fissure," Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told a press conference on Friday.

Puerto Rico's public safety department reported six deaths related to Hurricane Maria across the island. Three died in mud slides, two in flooding and another person was killed by a panel striking him in the head.

The death toll is likely to climb in coming days as search and rescue crews reach previously inaccessible areas, officials said.

Maria battered Puerto Rico as a near Category-5 hurricane Wednesday morning. It's the first hurricane of such strength or higher to hit the island in about 90 years.

Power remains completely out on the island, and up to 85 percent of its fiber cables are damaged. Just one fourth of the island area still has water service, and 15 percent of the communication towers are working, according to media reports reaching here.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said it needs three to four months to get power fully restored.

"Every vulnerable house here made out of wood was completely or partially destroyed during the path of the eye of the hurricane," the governor said Thursday.

Before Maria hit, Puerto Rico had already been plunged in a deep fiscal crisis. Many now fear the hurricane has sent the island into a deeper humanitarian crisis.

"This is a particularly devastating hurricane at a particularly weak moment," Luis Gutierrez, a House lawmaker, was quoted by local reports as saying.

"Puerto Rico has endured a horrific ordeal," Rossello lamented.

Maria came on the heels of Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic.