TEHRAN: Seventy people have died in flooding in Iran after record rainfalls began saturating parts of the country last month, state-run media reported.
Deaths have been recorded across 13 provinces, with the highest casualties in Fars, Lorestan, Golestan and Hamedan, said head of Iran’s Coroner’s Office, Ahmad Shojaei.
Sources say record rainfalls since March 19 have so far flooded some 1,900 cities and villages across Iran, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to water and agriculture infrastructures.
Over 140 rivers have burst their banks and some 409 landslides have been reported in the country; 78 roads had been blocked and 84 bridges in flood-stricken areas affected.
Officials on Saturday warned residents in the province of Khuzestan of rising water levels and urged them to take evacuation notices seriously, local media reported.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said it was helping thousands of people affected by the flooding.
“Red Crescent volunteers and staff have evacuated hundreds of people to safety, and have distributed food and items such as tents, blankets and health kits to tens of thousands of people,” the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director, Sayed Hashem, said.
The speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani on Saturday reiterated Tehran’s accusations that the United States is hindering the delivery of relief aid from the International Red Cross to Iran’s Red Crescent Society. “Iran has not received even a dollar from the Red Cross due to US measures and sanctions,” Mehr quoted him as saying.
On April 2, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement extending condolences to the victims of the flooding in Iran and blaming its government for the disaster.
“These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness. The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster,” he said.
“The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister responded angrily on Twitter two days later, “It seems the US Secretary of State is unaware of the mismanagement of natural disasters in the US over the past two years, and hence opines — in an unprofessional, interventionist and demagogic manner — on Iran’s management of the horrific and unprecedented floods which simultaneously afflicted 24 provinces,” Zarif said, before referencing Hurricanes Harvey, Michael and Florence and Maria.