More than 20 dead in floods in southern Iran: state media

At least 21 people have been killed by floods in southern Iran and others are missing after heavy rains hit the largely arid country, state media reported on Saturday.

“Twenty-one people were killed and two are still missing,” in the floods that hit several towns in and around Estahban county in southern Fars province, said Hossein Darvisi, provincial head of the Red Crescent. TV.

Videos posted to local media and social media showed cars caught in the waters of the Roodball River and swept away while parents tried to rescue their children from the vehicles.

Estahban governor Yusef Kargar said “around 5:00 pm yesterday, heavy rains… in the central parts of Estahban county led to flooding,” according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Estahban is located 174 kilometers (108 mi) east of the provincial capital Shiraz.

The tragedy occurred on a summer weekend in Iran, when families tend to head to cooler areas such as river banks, lake shores and valleys.

“Many locals and tourists (from other areas) who had gone to the river bank and were present in the river bed, were caught in the flood due to the rising water level,” Kargar added.

Iran has suffered repeated droughts in the past decade, but also regular floods, a phenomenon exacerbated when torrential rain falls on the sunny land.

Photos released by Iran’s Red Crescent showed rescuers walking across cracked dry soil while others worked among reeds.

In 2019, severe flooding in the south of the country left at least 76 people dead and caused damage estimated at more than $2 billion.

In January, two people were initially reported killed in flash floods in Fars when heavy rains hit the region, but the toll rose to at least eight there and elsewhere in southern Iran.

Scientists say climate change is increasing extreme weather events, including droughts as well as the likelihood of increased storm intensity.

– Dry up –

Like other neighboring countries, Iran has suffered chronic droughts and heat waves for years, and these are expected to worsen.

In recent months, there have been protests against the drying up of rivers, particularly in central and southwestern Iran.

Last November, tens of thousands of people gathered on the country’s dried-up Zayandeh Rood riverbed, which runs through the central city of Isfahan, to protest the drought and accuse officials of diverting water.

Security forces fired tear gas when the protest turned violent and said they arrested 67 people.

Last week, state media reported that Iranian police had arrested several suspects for disrupting security after they protested the drying up of a lake once considered the largest in the Middle East.

Lake Urmia, in the mountains of northwestern Iran, began shrinking in 1995 due to a combination of prolonged drought and water extraction for agriculture and dams, according to the UN Environment Programme.

In neighboring Iraq in December, 12 people died in flash floods that swept through the country’s north, despite a severe drought.

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