70,000 ordered to flee their homes in Iran flood disaster

The disaster has left aid agencies struggling to cope. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2019
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70,000 ordered to flee their homes in Iran flood disaster

  • The governor said the disaster was unprecedented
  • Nearly 80 people have died in the past three weeks in floods described as the worst since the 1940s

JEDDAH: Iranian authorities ordered nearly 70,000 people to flee their homes on Wednesday as floodwater poured into the city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province.

Provincial governor Gholamreza Shariati pleaded for young men to volunteer to “help us in building dykes and to assist in the evacuation of women, children and the elderly.”

The governor said the disaster was unprecedented. “The Dez and Karkheh rivers have for the first time joined each other near Ahvaz and are now flowing toward the city,” he said.

“These two rivers are far away from each other, but the huge volume of floodwater caused them to join up.”

Nearly 80 people have died in the past three weeks in floods described as the worst since the 1940s, devastating about 1,900 cities and villages in 20 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The northeast was first swamped on March 19 before the west and southwest were hit on March 25. On April 1, the west and southwest were again swamped by floods when heavy rain returned.

The huge inflow of water forced authorities to release large volumes of water from Khuzestan province’s largest dams, which is now threatening some of the cities downstream, including the Ahvaz region, where 1.3 million people live.

The disaster has left aid agencies struggling to cope, and the armed forces have been deployed to help victims. Emergency services have been left scrambling to prevent further loss of life and to provide relief to flood-stricken residents.

“Delivering food and hygienic goods to camps is our primary priority and we have provided emergency accommodation for about 44,000 people,” said Morteza Salimi, the Iran Red Crescent’s head of Relief and Rescue.

In the city of Susangerd, swamped by floodwater, people are living in tents on the roofs of their homes as what had previously been roads were turned into canals.

Red Crescent helicopters were providing food and basic goods to regions cut off by floods, with villagers rushing to receive the help as they approached.

Iran’s leaders have been widely criticized for their response to the flooding and the loss of life. “Clearly the regime was caught unaware and unprepared for the disaster,” said Borzou Daragahi, of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Security Initiative.

“Mostly bigwigs showed up at the flood zone for infuriating photo ops, in what will likely be remembered throughout Iran as the country’s Hurricane Katrina moment.”


Libyan warplane makes emergency landing on road in southern Tunisia

Updated 46 min 42 sec ago
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Libyan warplane makes emergency landing on road in southern Tunisia

  • The pilot said he was forced to land because his L-39 warplane was damaged
  • Government of National Accord said the plane does not belong to them

TUNIS: A Libyan warplane made an emergency landing on a road in the southern Tunisian town of Beni Khadash on Monday and its pilot has been detained, according to Tunisia’s state news agency TAP.
The Tunisian Ministry of Defense said the pilot informed the authorities that he was forced to make the landing due to damage to his plane.
Tunisia’s air force prepared to intercept the L-39 warplane but it landed before it could be reached, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Forces allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) denied the warplane was one of theirs.
Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya and which mounted an offensive on Tripoli in early April, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Witnesses said the plane had landed on a road and been surrounded by civilian vehicles stopping to watch.