Libya flooding scenario could happen in Sudan, Egyptian geologist warns

The geologist and water expert from Egypt, Abbas Sharaqi, warned of the danger of a repeat of the Derna scenario with the Renaissance Dam. He cited the collapse of two dams in Libya and the catastrophic floods that resulted from it.

These statements come after the Libyan tragedy but also after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the completion of the filling of the massive Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, the largest in Africa. This threatens to revive regional tensions with Egypt and Sudan, both located along the river.

Egypt immediately condemned Ethiopia’s announcement that it had completed the dam’s filling, stating that this action constituted a “legal violation.”

Abbas Sharaqi’s earlier scientific study, published in May 2011, had already revealed some of the risks associated with this project, particularly to the region.

One of the main concerns mentioned in the study was that the Renaissance Dam could lead to “an increased likelihood of dam collapse due to geological factors and the rapid flow of Blue Nile waters, which can reach over half a billion cubic meters per day in some days (in September) and rise more than 2,000 meters above the dam level, and if that happens, the greatest damage affect Sudanese villages and cities, especially Khartoum, which could be swept away by the water like the Japanese tsunami in 2011.”

The research paper also stated: “There is a greater likelihood of an earthquake occurring in the dam area (Renaissance Dam) due to the weight of the water in this region, which is characterized with a fractured rock environment.”

Professor of Geology and Water Resources at Cairo University, Abbas Sharaqi, revealed changes in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam after the completion of the fourth filling.

Abbas Sharaqi said that after the completion of the fourth filling on September 9th, approximately 300 million cubic meters per day flow from above the middle passage to Sudan. Sudan has gradually started storing its annual share, which will decrease to 200 cubic meters per day next month, with a total inflow of about 6 billion cubic meters during October.

He mentioned that the current total stock in the Lake of the Renaissance Dam is about 41 billion cubic meters.

Furthermore, he pointed out that there are still many areas in Sudan experiencing drought this year to reserve water in the Renaissance Dam for most of the season, in addition to a deficit in rainfall compared to the average this year.

Satellite imagery showed the closure of the spillway gates since the middle of this month, and the turbine basin appears calm, indicating that the turbines have not been operational for the first time in weeks, possibly for routine maintenance.

Abbas Sharaqi had previously warned against a scenario similar to what happened in the Libyan city of Derna, particularly concerning the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, especially after the storage volume reached 41 billion cubic meters.

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