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Flash floods in northern Iraq kill 12 people

<i>AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>An Erbil resident takes a video of river water levels on the outskirts of the city.
AFP via Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
An Erbil resident takes a video of river water levels on the outskirts of the city.

By Muwafaq Mohammed and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

At least 12 people have died in flash floods caused by heavy rains overnight in northern and northeastern Iraq, Erbil mayor Nabz Abdulhamid told CNN Friday.

Videos posted to social media show muddy waters flooding streets and homes in the city of Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, and other towns in the province.

Rescue operations are underway, and officials continue to search for several missing people, said Sarkawt Tahseen of Erbil’s civil defense department.

Iraqi Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani tweeted Friday he was “deeply saddened by the loss of lives and damage caused by last night’s heavy rain and flood,” and he has “instructed all government agencies to provide immediate support and relief to areas affected.”

Separately, Iraqi security forces in the country’s northern Kirkuk province Friday rescued a number of families trapped in their houses as a result of the torrential rains, according to a statement released by the defense ministry.

Iraq has witnessed record-low rainfall this year, but officials have warned about sporadic heavy rainfall, due to climate change.

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