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Iran Orders Evacuation of Flood-Hit Western Cities

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 meters (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 organization 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 neighboring 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 meters (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.

Media outlets showed images of collapsed bridges and oil and gas pipelines destroyed by the flood.

The main railway line linking Tehran to the south of the country had also been blocked by the flood.

This is the third major flood to hit Iran in the past two weeks with unprecedented rainfalls in the mostly arid country that had endured a decades long drought until this year.

The first occurred in the northeast of the country on March 19 and the second struck the west and southwest of Iran on March 25 with a combined toll of 45 people killed.

The present flood has again struck in the west and southwest following heavy rain that is set to continue into Tuesday.

Apart from Lorestan half a dozen other provinces are also facing critical circumstances, with the emergency services reporting 23 out of Iran's 31 provinces have been affected and could face floods.

With the consecutive floods the reservoirs of many dams have reached full capacity forcing emergency discharge, as much as 1,800 cubic meters per second in some cases, to prevent them from breaking.

Source: Agence France Presse


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