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More Towns To Be Evacuated In Iran, 100,000 To Be Moved To Shelters

An aerial photo of Khuzestan Province after recent flood. April 7, 2019

Officials in Iran's flood-hit Khuzestan province continued issuing flood warnings throughout Sunday April 7, while some reports say many residents have refused to evacuate their homes and move to safe areas.

Nevertheless, Iranian news agencies report that 174 towns and villages in the oil-producing province have been evacuated.

Reports also indicate that over 2,000 residents of Hamidieh in the vicinity of the provincial capital Ahvaz have been moved to army garrisons and that temporary shelters have been prepared for some 100,000 residents in Howizeh and Hamidieh.

Meanwhile, the official news agency IRNA quoted a local official as having said that separate shelters have been set up for "foreign residents," the official jargon to refer to Afghan refugees in Iran. However, the official has offered no explanation as to the reasons for the segregation.

According to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, fresh floods may affect some 400,000 residents of Khuzestan province.

In the meantime, flood has blocked the transit routes from Ahvaz to Susa and ruined 14 rural water supply establishments in the area. Some 251 electricity posts have also been damaged, leaving flood-hit people without water, power and natural gas.

Reports say nomadic tribal parts of Khuzestan have also sustained over 300 billion rials of losses; approximately $6 million.

Meanwhile, a second Kuwaiti aircraft carrying relief aid landed in Iran on Sunday, supplying 40 tons of foodstuff, 1,000 tents, 2,000 monthly food baskets for families, 2,000 blankets and 1,000 water pumps to drain affected houses.

Elsewhere in Khuzestan province, citizens in Soussangerd, Bostan, Kaveh, Kout Seyed Naeem, Howizeh and Hamidieh have been asked to leave their homes as the water behind Karkheh dam has not receded as it was predicted and the overflow may cause further floods.

The local officials say flood water has not yet poured into houses in this area but it is a highly probable possibility as the outflow from the dam is on the rise. However, videos on social media show dikes have given way.

This comes while the local governor in Andimeshk has denied any outflow, saying that the situation is under control.

The water from Karkheh Dam was seen moving toward the city of Andimeshk on Saturday as the river Karkheh burst its banks.

In another development, officials have said that those living on the West bank of river Karoun in Khorramshahr should prepare for evacuating their homes.

Most of the water seen in this video is flood waters, which have expanded Karoun river.

Local officials say 29,414 people from the villages in the area have been evacuated from 9 towns and temporarily housed in 39 camps. An MP for Ahvaz told reporters that living conditions in the camps are substandard as three families have to live under one tent.

The Department of Education in Lorestan Province, which is the worst hit area, has announced that floods have demolished 19 schools in the city of Pol Dokhtar.

Iran's Coroner’s Office says at least 70 people have died in the floods in 13 provinces including 21 in Fars, 15 in Lorestan and 8 in Hamadan provinces.

In the meantime, rainfall is going to continue at least until Monday, reported the Iranian meteorological organization.

Reactions by the government

Bahram Ghasemi, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry has once again blamed the United States for the consequences of recent floods and accused Washington of blocking the flow of relief aid to Iran.

The International Red Cross has denied similar claims before, but Ghasemi says the United States does not allow Iranians living abroad to send aid to Iran.

In another development, President Hassan Rouhani has criticized municipalities for allowing construction on river beds and river banks, calling this "playing with the lives of the people." He did not rule out financial corruption as a possible reason.

At the same time, the prosecutor of Shiraz has said that a number of individuals have been arrested for their "possible involvement" in the deadly flood in that city. He did not elaborate further, but earlier reports blamed IRGC as the contractor of a road that was constructed on an old flood route. This is the road hit by a violent flash flood where twenty people lost the lives in the flood in late March.