Iran

Floods in Iran kill more than 200 people

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Devastating floods in Golestan Province, in northern Iran, have left more than 200 people dead and hopes are fading to find alive another135 people still missing. Seven Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and army helicopters rescued 15,000 people trapped in flooded areas and airlifted hundreds of injured people to hospital.
In Golestan, some 350 volunteers were mobilized early in the morning of August 11, as well as two helicopters, some 50 vehicles and four teams of sniffer dogs. In the province of Khorasan, an Iranian Red Crescent relief team rescued 80 people. To date, more than 150 tonnes of food, tents, blankets and other urgent necessities have been distributed by Red Crescent volunteers to flood victims in these provinces.

The flooding, caused by torrential and unseasonable rains which started on August 10, has disrupted electricity, gas and water supplies, in the two provinces .Roads have been cut, in effect isolating certain areas from the rest of the country. Nearly 15,000 hectares of farmland are now under water, thousands of livestock have drowned and about 1,500 houses have been destroyed.

Experts are saying that the flooding was caused not only by the unusual amount of rain, but also as a result of a three-year-long drought in the region. When the ground has been dry for too long, it cannot absorb large and sudden amounts of water.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami expressed their condolences to the families who have lost loved ones, as did the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. This week, Kuwait sent a relief consignment to Iran, consisting of medicines, clothing, food and blankets.

Weather forecasters are warning more rain may be in the offing, and flooding may spread to other provinces. Iranian Red Crescent teams remain on alert and a task force has been set up at the Tehran headquarters to coordinate the emergency operation.

Meanwhile a Federation assessment team is in Golestan province to report on the situation. They will also travel to the southeastern part of the country to assess the effects of a severe drought in that region.