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Rain Saved Tehran From Evacuation, Tehran Mayor Says

IRAN -- Iranians wear masks to help guard against dangerous levels of air pollution as they walk in the centre of the smog-filled capital Tehran. FILE PHOTO

Referring to the unprecedented air pollution in the past few days the Mayor of Tehran on Tuesday said the capital would have had to be evacuated if it had not rained last night.

Speaking at a meeting of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, Pirouz Hanachi said the average concentration of hazardous airborne particles hit 200 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday night which is considered as “past the alert stage”.

Referring to the recent protests in Iran the Mayor of Tehran said the population of the capital is growing very fast. “Shahriar [a town to the west of Tehran] which was one of the main centers of the recent unrest is experiencing a population growth of 17 percent,” he said.

Air pollution costs the Iranian capital up to $2.6 billion in economic and social damage every year according to the Head of Environment and Sustainable Development at Municipality of Tehran.

Despite the video footage shared on the social media that shows the Mayor speaking about “evacuation”, the Public Relations office of Tehran Municipality in a tweet claimed that the Mayor used the term “shut down” and not evacuation.

According to Emergency Services Organization more than one thousand citizens had to be rushed to medical centers because of the choking haze. According to a member of Tehran City Council at least 15 residents of the capital lose their lives due to air pollution every day.

The air quality in Tehran is “disastrous,” Mohsen Hashemi, the Chairman of Tehran City Council said and added that “the municipal authorities have not shown any initiative or particular action in any respect”.

Schools and universities have had to close ​ in several cities including Tehran since air pollution reached critical levels in November, immediately after the protests. In the past few days critical air pollution has affected other cities such as Tabriz in the northwest, Bushehr in the south and the central city of Qom.