DUBAI (Reuters) – At least 17 people were killed and more than 70 others were wounded in flash floods in Iran’s southern province of Fars, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, following devastating floods in the north.
The spread of deadly flooding to the south follows days of floods that affected more than 56,000 people living in 270 villages and small towns in the northern provinces of Mazandaran and Golestan along the Caspian Sea, state TV reported.
“At least 17 people were killed and 74 were injured in the Shiraz city flood … caused by heavy rains that started in the morning,” Tasnim quoted the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand, as saying, referring to the capital of Fars province in the south.
Kolivand later said one other person was killed in Sarpol-e Zahab in the western province of Kermanshah.
Iranian state TV said several provinces were on high alert for imminent flooding because of heavy rains.
Fars Governor Enayatollah Rahimi told state TV the flooding was under control and rescue and aid workers had been dispatched to the flood-hit areas.
“I am urging people to stay inside their homes in order to remain unharmed,” he said. “The scale of the flood damage is under investigation.”
TV aired footage of cars caught in flood waters in Shiraz. Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA said high water had damaged thousands of houses in Shiraz and other towns.
As the victims of the northern Iran flood struggled for days with rain, mud and cold weather, President Hassan Rouhani’s hardline rivals have criticized the government for doing too little, too late.
In a rare move, Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on the armed forces to help the flood-hit northern provinces.
Following Khamenei’s order, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its affiliated Basij militia have been playing a leading role in dealing with the aftermath of the floods in northern provinces.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alexander Smith and Peter Graff