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'Unprecedented' flooding kills more than 30 in Iran as powerful storm slams Middle East

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
March 27, 2019, 8:14:09 AM EDT


At least 32 people have been killed in southern Iran as the result of severe flooding that occurred on Monday after a robust storm swept through the Middle East, according to Radio Farda.

Nearly 100 people have been injured and flooding has been reported in 28 out of the 31 provinces within Iran.

Reports on the death toll have been conflicted with various numbers from different sources in the past 24 hours and fears are high that the total will continue to rise.

Heavy rain outside the city of Shiraz triggered the flooding, Iran's head of emergency services, Pirhossein Koulivand, said.

Around 75 mm (3 inches) of rain was reported in city within a 36-hour period from Monday into Tuesday. Normal rainfall for the entire month of March is less than 50 mm (2 inches).

Videos posted to social media showed floodwaters sweeping away cars in Shiraz. In some situations, people had to climb onto the top of vehicles as they frantically escaped the raging waters.

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This Google Maps image shows the city of Shiraz on a day with quieter weather. (Image/Google Maps)


The Associated Press, citing Iranian state TV, said Monday that most of the people killed had been trying to take videos of the flooding on their phones.

Floods were reportedly imminent in the provinces of Fars, Kurdistan, Qom and Isfahan, with the water authority in the capital of Tehran saying floods were a possibility there as well, the AP said.

To the northwest of Shiraz, the city of Yasuj reported almost 200 mm (8 inches) of rainfall from Monday into Tuesday.

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Vehicles are piled up on a street after a flash flood in the southern city of Shiraz, Iran, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Amin Berenjkar/Mehr News Agency)


Farther north, at least 56,000 people have been impacted by floods in the provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran since a storm dropped heavy rain in the area on March 19 and 20.

Iran's Minister of Energy, Reza Ardakanian, called the floods "unprecedented" and cited climate change as as the primary factor, according to AFP.

"Climate change is forcing itself on our country," Ardakanian said.

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Military vehicles rescue people after flash flooding around the northern city of Aq Qala in Golestan province, Iran, Monday, March 25, 2019.


The storm system responsible for the deadly flooding brought heavy rainfall to other parts of the Middle East in recent days.

In Iraq, at least 10 people, including children, were killed in flooding near Al-Sharqat.

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Downpours continued across western and northern Iraq on Monday night and Tuesday.

"Drier weather returned to the hardest-hit areas on Wednesday; however, there will be the risk for some light rainfall on Thursday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister said.

"Concern is increasing that another round of heavy rainfall will be possible from Sunday into early next week," he said.

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