Tens of Thousands Flee for Safety as Guajataca Dam Fails in Puerto Rico

A dam failure in Puerto Rico has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing the rushing waters that are threatening downstream communities in the wake of torrential rains unleashed by Hurricane Maria.

Fears had grown overnight and evacuations had begun, but footage showed the dam, located in northwest city of Guajataca, failing and a spillway being overrun with rushing waters:

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On Friday night, the National Weather Service warned the failure of the dam might be “imminent” and could lead to “life-threatening” flash floods for the estimated 70,000 people living in the immediate area. “This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the NWS wrote. “All the areas around the Guajataca River must evacuate NOW. Your lives are in DANGER.”

Speaking to Reuters by phone on Saturday, Christina Villalba, an official for the island’s emergency management agency, said there was little doubt the dam was about to break.