Floods in southern Iran have killed at least 22 people, and one person is missing following heavy rains in the largely arid country, state media reported on Saturday.
“The death toll rises to 22 after the discovery of another body” missing in the floods that hit several towns in the region surrounding Estahban, local relief organization chief Javad Moradian said. quoted by the Mehr news agency.
“Many natives and visitors were at the edge of the river when they were trapped by the rising waters” late Friday afternoon, said Yousef Kargar, governor of the city of Estahban, quoted by the official Irna agency. Videos on social media and local media show cars falling into the Roodbal River and being washed away.
Iran has suffered from repeated droughts over the past decade, but also regular floods due to torrential rains, a phenomenon aggravated by the aridity of the soil.
On Saturday, the first vice-president of Iran, Mohammad Mokhber, urged the governor of the province du Fars to investigate to shed light on this tragedy and compensate the victims, according to Irna.
Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited the region to “supervise the rescue operations and comfort the families of the deceased”, the same source said.
The meteorological organization of the province warned that “heavier precipitation is possible at the end of this week”.
In January, eight people had already died in the Fars region, which is particularly exposed to flooding. In neighboring Iraq, 12 people died after torrential rains in December 2021.
In 2019, heavy rains in southern Iran claimed at least 76 lives and caused damage estimated at over $2 billion.
Climate change is amplifying drought events, threatening food security, experts say. The climate issue has become a reason for protest for many Iranians in the cities and countryside who suffer from the vagaries of the weather.
In recent months, thousands of people have demonstrated against the drying up of rivers, particularly in central and southwestern Iran.
In mid-July, demonstrators were arrested after protesting against the drying up of one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world, Lake Urmia, in northwestern Iran, Irna had reported.
The drying up of this lake, which began in the 1990s, is considered an ecological disaster for this mountainous region.
Sandstorms have also increased recently, as in the whole of the Middle East, forcing administrations to close their doors in many areas of the country. These phenomena can also lead to hospitalizations for respiratory problems.
In total, sand and dust storms affect more than 150 countries and regions, and have repercussions on the environment, health and life. economy, among others, according to the World Meteorological Organization.