While historic Ashi Shahab Bridge collapses

Landmark Delal bridge withstands severe weather in Zakho

ZAKHO – The historic Delal Bridge in Zakho has withstood the recent severe weather conditions, including heavy rainfall and flooding, that threatened the structure’s stability. Despite floodwaters reaching within 3 meters of the bridge’s apex, the ancient architecture’s resilience prevented any damage.

During the recent downpour, which led to significant water level rises, concerns over the Delal Bridge’s safety emerged, with fears of potential collapse. Mohammed Ahmed, the director of Zakho Antiquities, told 964media, “The design of the Delal Bridge is astonishing, with both ends anchored securely, which is why the flood couldn’t inflict any harm.”

The bridge’s apex is 18 meters high, but the water level rose to 15 meters, leaving only a 3-meter gap. Yet, according to Ahmed, the bridge did not suffer any damages or cracks.

Saeed Zarvan, a historian and author who has written a book about the bridge, informed 964media, “Recent studies on the bridge’s history place its construction between 450 to 520 BC, during the Roman era, incorporating some of the period’s most advanced engineering techniques and primarily built from stone, making it remarkably robust.”

Zarvan also mentioned that the bridge suffered damage in 1967 due to flooding, but it has not collapsed. The bridge has undergone more than four restorations, the most recent one in 2018, led by teams of local and international exports in collaboration with the Sapienza University of Rome, aimed at preserving its historical integrity while enhancing its structural integrity.

“The last restoration covered the entire bridge, which played a crucial role in its ability to withstand the recent flooding,” Ahmed explained to 964media.

The director of Zakho Antiquities also refuted online chatter that the Zakho Corniche project had a part to play in the devastating rise in water levels that threatened to completely engulf the historic Delal Bridge: “There was no adverse impact on the water levels. In fact, it helped reduce them by widening the channel through which the water flowed.”

The Zakho Corniche is a flagship tourist project launched to much fanfare last year, transforming the riverbank surrounding the Delal Bridge into parks, wide walkways and amenities.

“Even that project was conceived in consultation with experts in the field,” he said.

Throughout the night of flooding, people across the Kurdistan Region had eyes glued to live feeds on social media showing the bridge withstanding an unprecedented torrent of water.

It comes at a time when several bridges in the Kurdistan region have succumbed to flooding, despite modern engineering techniques and significant investment.

The Delal Bridge, spanning 114 meters with a width of approximately 3 meters and an arch height of 18 meters, remains a testament to the durability of ancient engineering, situated in the city of Zakho, Dohuk.

Though the Delal Bridge withstood the flooding, another major bridge in Zakho, with a history dating back 500 years, has collapsed following severe flooding in the city.

The Ashi Shahab Bridge, a vital link connecting the Gundik neighborhood to the marketplace, was partially collapsed by the recent floodwaters.

The historic bridge is said by some historians to be constructed by Hassan Wali Beg, the ruler of the Bahdinan Principality. It has been an integral part of Zakho’s infrastructure, facilitating movement and trade within the region.

In addition to the Ashi Shahab Bridge, two other bridges within Zakho’s central market area were under threat of collapse due to the ongoing adverse weather conditions. The Dohuk Civil Defense and local police forces have preemptively halted traffic over these bridges as a safety measure.

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