Iran

Iran: Flood relief efforts continue

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ISLAMABAD, 15 January (IRIN) - Relief efforts to assist those affected by last week's floods in Iran were proceeding well after torrential rains on Friday led to a rash of flash floods throughout southern and western parts of the country, aid workers told IRIN on Tuesday. Nine people have been confirmed dead and scores injured during what is being described as one of the heaviest rainfalls in years.
"About 1,500 people were directly affected by the flooding which left some people homeless," Mostafa Mohaghegh, director general of the international affairs department of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), told IRIN from the capital Tehran on Tuesday. "The Iranian Red Crescent is continuing its efforts to assist people on the ground and the situation is now under control," he said.

According to the most recent information provided by Mohaghegh, the southern province of Fars was the worst hit, where six of the nine fatalities occured and some 13 buildings were destroyed. Two people died in the western province of Chehar-Mahal-Bakhtiari and 46 were injured, while another died in the southern province of Bushehr, he said.

According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Tehran on Monday, the flash floods affected several urban and rural areas in the southwest provinces of Bushehr and Khoozestan, the central province of Fars, the southeast province of Kerman, as well as other southern provinces. Rainfall in Bushehr was said to be the highest in 28 years and the suburbs of Bushehr and Shiraz, the capital cities of Bushehr and Fars provinces respectively, were completely inundated. Water supply to Bushehr city has been cut since Friday evening.

The OCHA report said that the extent of damage to houses, agriculture and infrastructure in many urban and rural areas still surrounded by water remains unknown. "The floods have washed away roads and brought down power lines in these provinces, disrupting traffic between Bushehr, Kazeroon, Shiraz and Isfahan," the report said. Although premature, initial estimates indicate that 30 villages in Bushehr, 59 in Khoozestan and 11 in Fars were also affected, it added.

In terms of a national response, emergency search and rescue operations began with helicopters and other equipment immediately and the Iranian Red Crescent was continuing its efforts on Tuesday, providing food, blankets and shelter to those affected. In Fars province alone, 77 vehicles, 105 relief workers and three helicopters were on the scene, while in Khoozestan, Red Crescent relief boats were used to reach the needy, Mohaghegh said.

According to relief agencies, drought conditions in the country - now in their fourth consecutive year - have made some areas of Iran particularly prone to flooding.

As the soil is exposed to erodable forces and the capacity of the soil to absorb rainfall is significantly reduced, more frequent floods are expected in the future. In July, floods affecting north-western provinces of Iran killed 30 people while in August, torrential rains left 247 dead and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the northeastern provinces of Golestan and Khorasan, as well as the central province of Semnan.

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