On Tuesday the Zeyzoun dam in northern Syria ruptured and collapsed, killing 20
people and leaving thousands more homeless. This false-color image taken
on June 5, 2002, (bottom) by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite shows the extent of the flooding.
Normally, there would be no water present in the center of the image (top,
acquired on June 3, 2002).
After the dam burst, 71 million cubic meters flowed onto the surrounding
landscape and washed over an area of 20,000 acres. Hundreds of homes were
destroyed in and around the villages of Zeyzoun, Qastoun, and Ziara, roughly 220
miles (350 kilometers) north of Damascus. Most of the residents fled to higher
ground with the help of two helicopters. The Syrians originally constructed the
dam to contain the Orontes River and provide a steady flow of water to the surrounding farms, many of which
Rescue workers worry that more bodies may be found as the waters of the dam
recede. The Japanese government issued more than $40,000 in aid for the victims, and
the Syrian government is petitioning international aid agencies for further
In this false-color image, the ground is sage green and rusty orange, and
water is black. Clouds appear pink.
The longest river in Asia, the Yangtze River brings mixed blessings to China. Although it meets the water needs of millions of people, the river regularly overflows its banks. To protect residents and land in the lower Yangtze floodplains, China began construction on the Three Gorges Dam in 1994.