Iran orders evacuation of flood-hit western cities

April 02, 2019

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AHVAZ: A man sits in a boat at his flooded garden in a village near Ahvaz.—AFP
AHVAZ: A man sits in a boat at his flooded garden in a village near Ahvaz.—AFP

TEHRAN: Iranian authorities on Monday ordered the immediate evacuation of flood-stricken cities in a western province as rivers burst their banks, dams overflowed and vast areas were cut off from communication.

The highest level of alert was declared in Lorestan province with four or five cities “completely critical”, state television news network IRINN reported from Khorramabad, the region’s capital.

“In Khorramabad the water has risen by as much as three metres (nearly 10 feet) in parts... and reports are coming in of regions... completely submerged with residents stranded on their rooftops,” it added.

The Red Crescent’s provincial director, Sarem Rezaee, said his organisation had lost contact with much of the region.

“Telephones are not working, our radio communications are down... at this moment we have no news of other cities and villages,” he told IRINN, adding roads were flooded and helicopters were unable to take off due to the bad weather.

“We have requested emergency help from neighbouring provinces but at the present no one can do anything.” The airport in the western city of Khorramabad was flooded, with images showing water submerging the runway and cutting the province’s main air link to the rest of the country.

Authorities in Lorestan ordered evacuations in many regions, bringing in the armed forces to forcibly remove those who do not comply, local media reported.

The authorities said Pol-e-Dokhtar and Mamulan cities were already half submerged, with one fatality reported in Mamulan.

Images on local media show water gushing through streets in Pol-e-Dokhtar where the water level had reached 1.5 metres (five feet).

Every village in the vicinity of the two cities had been surrounded by flood waters while all five dams in Lorestan had reached capacity and four of them were overflowing.

Numerous rivers had burst their banks and landslides blocked many roads, said the reports.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2019