Once protected locals from invadersGiant rock threatens lives [Archives:2005/814/Last Page]

February 7 2005
Houses at the foot of the footress, in harms way.
Houses at the foot of the footress, in harms way.
Taiz Bureau
Locals in Asan and Jarb Al-Ma'a, of the Mughrib Ans tribe are being threatened by the so called death rock that once guarded a fortress and protected them from invaders. The rock looks set to slide from its current position, demolishing the houses and people below it unless Civil Defense takes action quickly.

Last September, locals heard explosion-like sounds coming from underneath the rock. Other rocks fell down from around the area. Locals now believe that the recent movement is the result of the strong earthquake in Dhamar in 1982, and the smaller quake that followed in December 2004. Houses below the rock are being evacuated.

Locals say the fortress was built one hundred years ago and consists of 360 rooms. It has a fascinating architectural style and was built on the surface of the rock. A mosque and underground stores were built very close to the fortress.

The fortress helped protect the civilians against Turkish invaders, who found that the staircase leading to the fortress was separated, making it impossible for them to reach their target. The Turkish forces put the fortress under siege for one week in an attempt to force those inside to surrender. When the invaders learnt that the people inside the fortress had enough food and water for several months, they withdrew from the targeted place.

The local council has formed a committee to investigate the dangers now posed by the rock. The Governor of Dhamar, Abdulwahab Al-Durrah ordered the Earthquake Surveillance Center on Dec. 12 2004 to look for possible solutions.

The report included a list of recommendations to avoid disaster, such as chemical destruction of the rock, the construction of alternative paths for the falling rock to follow, and constant observation. Locals complain that no response from the Ministry of Oil and Minerals has been seen since.