Mon, Apr 01, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Iran declares emergency with more flooding expected

Reuters, DUBAI

Iran on Saturday said it faced an emergency in a southwestern province threatened by flooding and worked to evacuate dozens of villages as forecasters predicted more of the heavy rains that killed at least 45 people last week, state media reported.

Fifty-six villages lying near the Dez and Karkheh rivers in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan might have to be evacuated as officials released water from two major dams along the rivers due to forecasts for more rain, Khuzestan Governor Gholamreza Shariati told state television.

“Some residents are resisting [evacuation calls] because of their livestock ... and because they’ve experienced similar circumstances in the past,” Shariati said, adding that Iranian Minister of the Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli had agreed to call an emergency in Khuzestan.

Iranian Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian, who is in charge of water resources, said authorities were working round-the-clock to “control floodwaters and to minimize possible damage.”

“It’s estimated that in the next five days about 3 billion cubic meters of water will flow into dam reservoirs in Khuzestan due to rainfall ... 1.8 billion [cubic meters] of which [is above capacity and] will have to be released,” he told state television.

The Iranian Students news agency quoted Shariati as saying that floods could also threaten the provincial capital, Ahvaz, if the rain is at the highest end of forecasts.

In the neighboring province of Lorestan, at least eight villages and parts of the town of Dorud were being evacuated, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Officials have said the government would compensate residents for flood damage.

At least 45 people were killed last week in flash floods in northern and southern Iran after the heaviest rains recorded in Iran in at least a decade, the Islamic Republic news agency quoted Iranian Minister of Health Saeid Namaki as saying.

Western and southwestern parts of the country are expected to bear the brunt of the storms in the days ahead.

Police renewed calls for people to avoid unnecessary journeys even though Iran is celebrating the Nowruz new year holiday, a time when many families travel.

Iran has implemented measures to prevent rain and flooding affecting its main crude oil export terminal on Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf, the head of Iranian Oil Terminals Co told the semi-official news agency Mehr on Saturday.

National Iranian Gas said earlier that its pipeline network had not been affected by the bad weather.

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