TEHRAN: Flooding in southern Iran has killed at least 22 people and left others missing following heavy rainfall in the largely arid country, state media reported on Saturday.
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.
Videos posted on local and social media showed vehicles being carried away by the rising waters of the Roodball river in the southern province of Fars.
One video showed adults pulling a child from a car as it began to shift downstream.
“Twenty-one people were killed and two are still missing,” in the floods that affected several towns in and around Estahban county, Hossein Darvishi, provincial head of the Red Crescent Society, was quoted as saying by state TV.
IRNA quoted Estahban Governor Yousef Kargar as saying “around 5pm yesterday, heavy rains ... in the central parts of Estahban County led to flooding”.
The incident was reported from around 174 kilometres (108 miles) east of the provincial capital Shiraz on a summer weekend in Iran when families tend to head to cooler areas such as rivers, lakes 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,” Kargar added.
Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber called on the governor of Fars province to open an investigation into the incident and “to compensate the families of the victims”.
In January, two people were initially reported killed in flash flooding in Fars when heavy rains hit the area, but the toll rose to at least eight there and elsewhere in Iran’s south.
Like other nearby countries, Iran has suffered chronic dry spells and heat waves for years, and these are expected to worsen. Scientists say climate change amplifies extreme weather, including droughts as well as the potential for the increased intensity of rainstorms.
Meanwhile, China’s Xinjiang province on Saturday warned of more flash floods and mudslides and risks to agriculture, as heatwaves swept across the region, accelerating the pace of glacial melt and posing hazards for its cotton production.
China has been baked by above-normal summer heat since June, with some meteorologists blaming climate change. The excessively hot weather has driven up demand for electricity to cool homes, offices and factories. In agricultural regions, drought has been a concern.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2022