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Most workers leave Turkish dam

Nearly 600 workers on a controversial dam in eastern Turkey have been laid off three weeks after Switzerland, Germany and Austria withdrew support for the project.

About 700 workers had been constructing the Ilisu dam on the River Tigris. On Tuesday an Austrian news service reported that 564 had been asked to leave for two months.

Switzerland, Germany and Austria had backed the project by providing critical insurance for European firms involved in the dam's construction.

In return for that the support the three governments agreed that Turkey had to meet some 150 conditions designed to mitigate impacts on the environment, cultural heritage sites, neighbouring states and the relocation of people in flood zones.

The governments said Turkey had not met those conditions and ordered their firms, including four from Switzerland, to halt their work until at least June 2009.

The Ilisu project is one of 22 news dams in eastern Turkey and sits near an ancient archaeological site that would be affected by flooding. Critics say up to 60,000 people would have to be resettled. Turkey said the number was closer to 15,000.


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