Iran flood death toll rises to 76, causes up to $2.5 bln damage

Iranian authorities ordered the evacuation of six cities along the Karkheh river in southwestern Khuzestan province on April 5, after more rain sparked fears of new flooding, state news agency IRNA said. (AFP/Tasnim News/Mehdi Pedramkhoo)
Updated 14 April 2019

Iran flood death toll rises to 76, causes up to $2.5 bln damage

  • Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from cities and villages
  • The floods have caused extensive damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure

LONDON: Seventy-six people have been killed in Iran by floods in recent weeks, according to a new toll published Sunday with warnings still in place for large swathes of the country.
“With the death of five people in the Khuzestan province flood and another person in Ilam province the death toll has now reached 76,” since March 19, according to a statement published online by the coroner’s office.
Floods caused by heavy rain across Iran in recent weeks have caused an estimated $2.5 billion in damage to roads, bridges, homes and agricultural land, state media cited ministers as telling lawmakers on Sunday.

The flooding, which began on March 19, has killed 76 people, forced more than 220,000 people into emergency shelters, and left aid agencies struggling to cope. The armed forces have been deployed to help those affected.

“The recent floods are unprecedented... 25 provinces and more than 4,400 villages have been affected,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying in parliament by state news agency IRNA.

Fazli said the floods had caused around 350 trillion rials ($2.5 billion) worth of damage.

Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami said 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) of road had been damaged and more than 700 bridges completely destroyed by landslides and flood water.

The government has said it will pay compensation to all those who have incurred losses, especially farmers but the Islamic Republic’s state budget is already stretched as US sanctions on its energy and banking sectors have halved Iranian oil exports and restricted access to some revenues abroad.

Morteza Shahidzadeh, head of Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, said President Hassan Rouhani had asked permission from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to withdraw $2 billion from the fund for reconstruction in flood-hit areas.

Shahidzadeh said Khamenei has in principle agreed to the request.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said the massive floods have not affected production and development at any oilfields, nor impeded the flow of crude through pipelines to recipient markets.

Karim Zobeidi, an official at the National Iranian Oil Company, was cited as saying on Sunday that it was still too early to estimate the extent of the flood damage to Iran’s energy sector.

Mehr news agency also quoted Zobeidi as saying that some oil wells in western Iran had been closed as a precaution to guard against any flooding.


Erdogan: Turkey ready to send troops to back Libya's Tripoli government

Updated 20 min 36 sec ago

Erdogan: Turkey ready to send troops to back Libya's Tripoli government

  • Military deal has been presented to Turkey’s parliament for approval
  • Ankara and Tripoli signed an expanded security and military accord late last month

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he was ready to send troops to Libya if requested by the government in Tripoli.
"On the issue of sending soldiers... If Libya makes such a request from us, we can send our personnel there, especially after striking the military security agreement," he said in a televised appearance, referring to a deal signed last month with Libya's Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.

Late on Saturday when a bilateral deal that provides for a quick reaction force if requested by Tripoli was sent to the Turkish parliament.
Ankara’s latest move raises tensions in the Mediterranean region and risks confrontation with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya, where rival political factions have been based since 2014.
Late last month, Ankara and Tripoli signed an expanded security and military accord and, separately, a memorandum on maritime boundaries that Greece said violates international law.
While the maritime accord has been sent to the United Nations for approval, the military deal has been presented to Turkey’s parliament. “Parliament will enter it into force after approval,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
It was unclear when a vote would take place in the parliament controlled by Erdogan’s ruling AK Party (AKP) and its nationalist MHP allies.
On Thursday, Haftar urged his forces to advance toward the center of Tripoli in what he said would be a “final battle,” after an offensive against the government that began in April but has stalled outside the capital.
Athens, which expelled the Libyan ambassador over the maritime boundary pact, has condemned the maritime accord and warned that Ankara is escalating tensions in the region.
“Turkey must choose if it will follow the road of self-isolation, continuing to play the role of trouble-maker in the region, or behaving like a good neighbor henceforth,” Greece’s deputy foreign minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, told Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper.
Greece has also condemned new Turkish gas exploration off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.
On Sunday, Israel’s energy ministry told Reuters that a Turkish vessel had asked one of its research ships to leave an area where it was “legally located in Cyprus’s commercial waters.” Israeli and Turkish media said Turkey’s navy escorted the ship away in the incident, which ocurred two weeks ago.
According to the text of the military agreement sent to Turkish lawmakers, Tripoli could request vehicles, equipment and weapons for use in army, navy and air operations. It also provisions for new intelligence sharing.
Utku Cakirozer, lawmaker from Turkey’s main opposition CHP and a member of the NATO parliamentary assembly, said it was “worrying” that Erdogan raised the prospect of sending troops and taking sides in the Libyan conflict.
“Turkey should not enter into a new adventure,” he told Reuters. “The AKP government should immediately stop being a party to the war in Libya.”