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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Heavy flooding across Iran claims at least 22 lives

Seventeen deaths reported in the southern city of Shiraz

Widespread flooding in Iran has killed at least 22 people and left more than 70 injured, according to official and state media.

The southern city of Shiraz, the main city in Fars province, suffered the greatest casualties, with 17 dead and 74 wounded, while another person was killed in Sarpol-e Zahab in the western province of Kermanshah, National Emergency Service chief Pirhossein Koolivand said on the agency's website.

State TV said most of the people killed had been trying to take videos of the flooding on their phones.

Iran has been facing unprecedented floods in 25 of its 31 provinces, the country's Crisis Management Organisation (CMO) said.

The provinces of Fars, Kurdistan, Qom and Isfahan were on alert, and the water authority in the capital, Tehran, said floods were a possibility there as well.

The latest floods have struck mostly west and south-west Iran and follow major flooding last week in the north-eastern provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran. Five people were killed, according to the state-run Press TV channel, and more than 56,000 people have been affected in cities and rural areas in the two provinces as a result of heavy rainfall that hit on March 19 and 20.

The disaster response was hampered by the new year holiday last week, with many emergency services employees on vacation.

Iran's CMO and health ministry have cancelled all leave and been placed on full alert, while provincial chiefs have been ordered to remain at their posts.

Iran's meteorological service has warned that the rains will continue until Wednesday. Police have advised against road trips in the coming days, with many roads blocked by flooding or landslides caused by heavy rains.

Last year, at least 30 people were killed by flash floods in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan.

Updated: March 26, 2019 01:52 PM

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