Iran Evacuates Thousands; More Rains, Floods Likely

Mazhin Khuzestan

Mazhin Khuzestan

The south-western province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq, is the main focus.

Iran acted on Saturday to evacuate more towns and villages threatened by floods after continued rain in the southwest.

Women and children are being moved to safer areas while men are asked to stay and assist with relief efforts.

Gholamreza Shariati, the provincial governor, said rescue teams were taking residents to nearby shelters on Saturday, including three army barracks.

Evacuation orders came as a new round of raining and floods is expected.

Around 70 villages in the province have already been evacuated in the past week.

Flooding might affect about 400,000 people in Khuzestan out of more than 4.7 million residents of the province, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli in a CNN report.

The premier spoke out via Twitter, praying for the safety of Iranian people after authorities issued warnings of more floods.

Since March 19, 1,900 cities and villages across Iran have flooded and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to water and agriculture infrastructures, according to another report by the news agency.

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"2,199 rural roads and 84 bridges have been washed away", said Behnam Saeedi, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Organisation.

The government said the flooding had damaged almost 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) of roads, or 36 percent of the country's entire network.

How are rescue operations faring?

Iran's state budget is already stretched under US sanctions on energy and banking sectors that have halved its oil exports and restricted access to some revenues overseas.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said sanctions, reimposed after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal past year, were hindering aid efforts and had caused shortage of rescue helicopters.

"This isn't just economic warfare, it's economic terrorism", Mr Zarif tweeted on 1 April.

The government has promised that those affected, especially farmers, will be compensated for their losses.

The head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards reiterated the armed forces "were using all their power" to minimise the damage in Khuzestan.

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