Fifty-eight Iraqis died of electrocution during heavy rains and flooding last week, the health ministry has said, illustrating the dangers posed by the country’s dilapidated infrastructure. The sewer system was overwhelmed by several days of downpour, leading to widespread flooding in Baghdad and other parts of the country.
Some areas were still flooded days after the rain stopped. The flooding combined with the country’s decrepit electricity infrastructure to pose a deadly danger. Videos posted online showed the bodies of people purportedly electrocuted being fished out of flooded streets. As more rain fell on Thursday, the electricity ministry issued a warning for citizens to “be careful with the distribution networks that include wires, poles and transformers”.
Because government-provided power falls far short of demand, many streets in Iraq are criss-crossed by spiderwebs of dozens of haphazardly strung wires linking homes and shops to private generators. Government electricity provision – which falls to just a few hours a day during the summer, when temperatures top 50 ºC – has been a major source of discontent in Iraq.
Anger over poor services and rampant corruption sparked weeks of protests earlier in the year. Reforms have been announced, but little in the way of significant change has occurred so far.