RFL/RE – Iranian authorities have ordered the evacuation of more towns and villages threatened by floods in the country’s southwest.
With heavy rains drenching much of the country since March 19, floods have swept through hundreds of towns and villages in 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces. At least 70 people have been killed.
The oil-producing Khuzestan Province, in southwest Iran, has been especially hard hit by the floods.
Gholamreza Shariati, the provincial governor, told the official IRNA news agency on April 6 that six towns “must be evacuated as soon as possible” as the government releases water from major dams that are near overflowing.
Shariati said rescue teams were taking residents to nearby shelters, including three army barracks.
Iranian media reports said over 2,000 residents of the town of Hamidieh, near the provincial capital, Ahvaz, had been moved to army barracks.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli warned that up to 400,000 people in Khuzestan, where a state of emergency has been declared, could be exposed to the floods, IRNA reported.
The floods, the worst in a decade, have prompted angry demonstrations over the government’s inadequate relief response to the crisis.