At least 80 people have been killed and 30 others are missing in floods that have wreaked havoc across Iran for more than a week, state media reported Saturday.
Since the start of the Iranian month of Mordad on July 23, “59 people died and 30 are still missing in the incidents caused by recent floods,” Yaghoub Soleimani, secretary-general of the Red Crescent Society, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
That is in addition to flash floods caused by heavy rains in the normally dry southern province of Fars that left at least 22 people dead just before the start of Mordad.
Many of those victims were spending the day by a riverside.
Soleimani noted that 60 cities, 140 towns and more than 500 villages across the country of around 83 million people have been affected by the inundations.
Tehran province is the hardest-hit with 35 deaths. Nearby Mazandaran province has the highest number of missing people at 20, a list published by the Red Crescent showed.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a letter published on his website Saturday, expressed condolences to the families and called on authorities to take necessary measures to repair the damage.
President Ebrahim Raisi visited flood-ravaged areas in Firouzkouh region east of the capital, his office said.
Severe damage occurred there primarily because of a mountain landslide late Thursday which claimed 14 lives, according to state media.
Videos and pictures posted by Iranian media and on social media showed houses and cars surrounded by gray mud, and people trying to recover their belongings.
Initial estimates point to more than 60 trillion rials (about $200 million) in damages to the agricultural sector, Agriculture Minister Javad Sadatinejad said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.
Iran’s meteorological center on Saturday warned of more rains in the southern and northern provinces in the coming days.
Scientists say climate change amplifies extreme weather, including droughts as well as the potential for the increased intensity of rain storms.
Like other regional countries, Iran has endured repeated droughts over the past decade, but also regular floods, a phenomenon made worse when torrential rain falls on sun-baked earth.
In 2019, heavy rains in Iran’s south left at least 76 people dead and caused damage estimated at more than $2 billion.