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News note

Iraq: UNICEF repairs pipeline damaged by explosion

BAGHDAD, 18 August 2003 - A major water pipeline in Baghdad that was blown up yesterday cutting off vital water supplies to over 300,000 people has been repaired by UNICEF just 24 hours after it was damaged. 

“An explosion left a huge hole in the side of the pipeline more than 1.5 metres across, and hundreds of thousands of litres of water came gushing out flooding motorways,” said Sa’eed Hameed, UNICEF Water Engineer. “This deprived many residents of water during the hottest month of the year. It was critical that services were restored quickly.”

UNICEF staff and contractors responded to the site of the explosion and began coordinating with the Baghdad Water Authorities.

For repairs to begin, the 7 Nissan Water Treatment Plant, the largest in Iraq, had to be shut down for hours, leaving 4 million people without water. 

“As soon as the pipeline could be isolated and shut down, the 7 Nissan plant was reactivated,” said Sa’eed. “However, that still left hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of water.”

UNICEF contractors worked up to the 23:00 curfew last night making repairs, and finished the job this morning. After testing the pipeline for leaks, the water was turned back on at 13:45 this afternoon.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:

Geoffrey Keele at UNICEF Iraq, (Sat.) 873-762-86-9918, (Mob.) 1-914-360-3143, gkeele@unicef.org





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