Unprecedented flooding hits Iran, forces village evacuations

by Reuters
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 14:51 GMT

Men push a vehicle after a flash flooding in Shiraz, Iran, March 26, 2019. Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS

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The flood has blocked a highway in eastern Tehran and videos posted on social media showed cars driving in flooded roads in southeast districts of the capital

GENEVA/LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Heavy flooding continued in Iran on Tuesday as many provinces geared up for days of waterlogged misery and authorities warned of possible floods in capital Tehran as well the oil-rich south.

President Hassan Rouhani promised compensation for all financial losses and called for the armed forces to help in flooded areas. "I ask the army and the Revolutionary Guards to help with removing the water and with engineering work in which they have significant capabilities and tools," Rouhani was quoted as saying on Tuesday at a meeting of a government crisis group.

Rouhani's hardline rivals have accused the government of doing too little, too late.

In a meeting broadcast on state television, the president said: "When a city goes under water because of a flood and neighbourhoods face this problem, removing the water is a difficult, heavy task."

The head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, said that officials who mishandled the disaster and caused the death of civilians could face prosecution, Fars news agency reported.

The flood killed one person in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province in western Iran on Tuesday and one in Khuzestan Province in the south west, state media said.

At least 18 deaths were reported on Monday, with hundreds injured.

The flood has blocked a highway in eastern Tehran, state media said. Videos posted on social media showed cars driving in flooded roads in southeast districts of the capital. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

Iran is celebrating the Nowrouz new year holidays, a time when many families travel around the country, but police asked people to avoid unnecessary journeys.

State television said several villages near rivers and dams in different provinces had been evacuated.

The country's crude oil pipelines have avoided damage from flooding in recent days and the transfer of oil is taking place normally, Iranian Oil Pipeline and Telecommunication Co director Abbasali Jafarinasab was quoted as saying by the oil ministry's SHANA news website.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London Editing by Dale Hudson and David Goodman)

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