Flash floods in Iran kill at least 21 people with more missing

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Flash floods in Iran’s Fars province have killed at least 21 people and left scores missing. 

Heavy rainfall swelled the Roudbal river on Friday which caused flooding in the areas of Estehban, Niriz and Darab in the drought-stricken Fars province, though more than 10 villages were hit by floods.  

According to local governor Yousef Karegar, rescue teams have helped save 55 people who were trapped by the flash flooding, including a number of tourists, but at least six people are still missing. 

Iran’s metrology department had warned about possible heavy rainfall across the country, which is facing a decades-long drought blamed on climate change.

In footage taken at the scene, a number of cars parked by the river are swept away as it bursts its banks, with their owners clambering out of the vehicles.

15 cars were caught in the river and 12 cars were pulled out from under the water, said Khalil Abdullahi, director general of crisis management in the Fars governorate.

The dangers of flash flooding in the region have also been exacerbated by the widespread construction of buildings and roads near riverbeds.

In March 2018, a flash flood in Fars province caused the death of 44 people.

Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, has shared his condolences with the families of the flood victims.

Climate change is making droughts far more frequent and intense, say experts, which is threatening food security in Iran and the wider region. 

Concerns about environmental issues have grown in Iran, with many Iranians protesting in the towns and cities adversely affected by climatic change. 

In recent months, thousands of people have demonstrated against the drying up of rivers, particularly in central and southwestern Iran.

Scores of people were arrested in June after protesting against the drying up of one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world, Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran. 

The drying up of Lake Urmia, which began in the 1990s, is considered an ecological disaster for this mountain region.