Middle East

Iran orders 70 villages evacuated in Khuzestan due to flood risk

GENEVA/DUBAi (Reuters) – Flood risks have forced the Iranian government to order the evacuation of 70 villages in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan on Tuesday, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

The villages were close to the Dez and Karkheh rivers, Shush county governor Adnan Qazi was quoted by IRNA as saying.

At least 47 people were killed in the past two weeks in flash floods in various provinces in Iran, from north to south, after the heaviest rains in the country in at least a decade.

Iran has announced a state of emergency in several provinces threatened by flooding and tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes in the flood-hit provinces, where dozens of villages have been evacuated already.

President Hassan Rouhani, accused by critics of mishandling the crisis, has promised compensation to all those affected.

The head of the judiciary, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, has said that officials who mishandled the disaster and caused the death of civilians could face prosecution.

Authorities are concerned about rising threats of dam failures and water releases that could create further damage in various provinces.

Officials in Tehran have called on people to stay away from rivers and areas near dams, saying that all the relevant organizations were on high-alert due to possibility of flooding in the capital.

Floods have affected at least 26 out of Iran’s 31 provinces since heavy downpours began on March 19.

Western provinces of the country have been hit by the worst of the flooding and southwestern provinces expected to bear the brunt of the storms in the days ahead.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh in GENEVA and Parisa Hafezi in DUBAI; Editing by Angus MacSwan, William Maclean

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