UPDATE 1-Louisiana officials order evacuation due to possible dam failure

Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:25pm EDT

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(Adds details from Louisiana governor)

NEW ORLEANS Aug 30 (Reuters) - Louisiana officials on Thursday ordered people along the Tangipahoa River between the towns of Kentwood and Robert to evacuate due to the expected failure of a dam in Mississippi that was damaged by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Up to 60,0000 people in Louisiana downstream of the Lake Tangipahoa Dam near McComb, Mississippi, have been ordered to leave, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said.

The dam, located in Percy Quinn State Park, is about 100 miles (161 km) north of New Orleans, which is not in danger.

The dam was badly damaged in the storm but "has not been breached at this time," said Carlene Statham, deputy director of civil defense in Pike County, Mississippi.

Mississippi officials are planning to intentionally breach it to prevent a failure, Jindal said, calling the situation at the dam "very fluid." If the dam is intentionally breached it would not impact Louisiana, he said.

Officials have ordered residents one mile (1.6 km) on either side of the river to evacuate, and Jindal has ordered buses to the area to help residents leave, Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess said.

A National Guard helicopter is in the air monitoring the dam, Jindal said. If the dam fails, it would take about 90 minutes for the water to reach Kentwood, he said.

Jindal said he planned to survey the dam with Burgess by air later on Thursday. (Reporting By Chris Baltimore; Editing by Eric Beech)

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