At least 22 people perished in flash floods brought upon Iran’s southern province of Fars by heavy rains, a provincial official said on Saturday.
Khalil Abdollahi, head of the province’s crisis management department, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim said there was at least one person missing, adding that 55 people had been rescued in the flood which submerged 15 cars.
The floods struck several towns in and around Estahban county in the southern province of Fars, Hossein Darvishi, the provincial head of the Red Crescent Society, was quoted as saying by state TV.
“Around 5:00 pm yesterday, heavy rains… in the central parts of Estahban County led to flooding,” said Yousef Kargar, the governor of Estahban, according to state news agency IRNA.
Estahban is located 174 kilometres east of Shiraz – the capital of Fars province.
Cars caught in the rising waters of the Roodball river could be seen in videos posted on local media and social media. The current was strong enough to carry the vehicles away. Parents were seen struggling to rescue their children from the cars. Families were on a weekend outing in the area due to cooler temperatures prevailing by riversides, lakesides and valleys.
“A number of local people and sightseers [from other areas] who had gone to the riverside and were present in the river bed were caught in the flood due to the rise in the water level,” Mr Kargar added.
The governor of Fars province declared Sunday a day of mourning, state media said.
Following recurring droughts that have marked the past decade, Iran is now suffering floods as torrential rains cannot penetrate the earth rendered rock-solid by high exposure to sun and sweltering heat.
As reported by AFP, photos released by Iran’s Red Crescent Society showed rescuers walking on cracked dry soil while others worked among reeds.
Iran has a long history of inundations with 2019 being one of its darkest chapters when floods in the country’s south left at least 76 people dead and caused damage estimated at more than USD 2 bn.
2022 has already been marked by casualties due to inundation. In January, two people were initially reported killed in flash flooding in Fars when heavy rains hit the area. The toll rose to at least eight there and elsewhere in Iran’s south.
Scientists point the finger at climate change, saying it amplifies extreme weather, including droughts as well as the potential for the increased intensity of rain storms.
Also on Saturday, Iran’s south was unfortunate to be hit by two strong earthquakes, namely in the province of Hormozgan on the Gulf.
Authorities responded by deploying search and rescue teams to the affected areas, an official said.
“We have not received any report of serious damage yet, but large areas have been struck by these earthquakes and the evaluation work continues,” Mokhtar Salahshour, head of Hormozgan Province’s Red Crescent, told state TV.
While the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said one earthquake had a magnitude of 5.5, Iranian state media set the magnitudes at 5.7 and 5.8 respectively.
At least five people were killed and 49 injured in early July when an earthquake of 6.1-strong magnitude struck an area near the epicentre of Saturday’s quake.
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