1040 GMT October 23, 2019
Rescue operations is underway in flood-stricken areas across the country as the death toll has risen to 70 since heavy downpours began on March 19.
Head of Iran Emergency Medical Service Pirhossein Kolivand said 791 people were also wounded in the flash floods which has caused widespread damages in the affected areas, IRNA reported.
The floods have affected at least 23 of the country’s 31 provinces since March 19.
Major floods have been reported in the provinces of Golestan, Mazandaran, Gilan, Kordestan, Lorestan, Fars, Northern Khorasan, Kermanshah, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad as well as Sistan-Baluchestan.
Estimates by government agencies suggest that the floods have destroyed over 25,000 homes around the country.
Lorestan is said to have suffered the second highest amount of casualties after the Fars Province, based on official reports.
New wave of rainfall
Iran's Meteorological Organization announced on Thursday that the country would see a new wave of rainfall entering the country as of Friday afternoon.
The rain is expected to be much less than the recent record-breaking rainfalls, but given that many waterways are already full to their maximum capacity, the organization announced that the precipitation can exacerbate the situation.
Iran has continued efforts to transfer relief to flood-stricken areas, including a new initiative to set up a "relief train".
Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI) head Saeid Rasouli announced on Thursday that coordination had been made to distribute the needed relief using the railway system.
Rasouli added that with the cooperation of other governmental bodies, the railway system had already coordinated the transfer of more than 14,000 bottles of water, 10,000 food cans, 500 blankets and also other needed materials, including aid-loaded transport vehicles.
The railway system will transport the aid to the flood-stricken areas of Lorestan and Khuzestan.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday, Deputy Road and Construction Minister Abul Hashem Hassannia said that the recent floods were a rare and unprecedented event and that a processional board will be set up to assess the flood relief operations.
He added that opening inaccessible transportation paths was his main priority.
Head of the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters Saied Mohammad said that his organization has so far assisted in the repairing of existing roads and the creation of temporary transportation routes made inaccessible by the flooding.
He added that the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters has also assisted in clearing, diverging and deepening waterways in order to reduce the flooding.
Other relief efforts have continued nonstop across the country, with professional and voluntary relief teams being sent to many flood-stricken areas. Helicopters have also been used to get aid to locations made inaccessible by the floods.
Much effort is also being put in enforcing existing floodwalls and creating new ones to withstand major flooding in populous areas.
Damage to Iranian agriculture
Flooding has caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Iranian agriculture, an official said on Thursday.
About 1,900 cities and villages have been affected by floods and exceptionally heavy rains since March 19.
Early estimates put agriculture sector losses at 47 trillion rials (about $350 million), the head of the Agriculture Ministry’s crisis management, Mohammad Mousavi was quoted as saying by IRNA based on the unofficial exchange rate of 135,000 rials to a dollar.
The government has assured citizens, and especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated.
As waters continue to submerge villages, the government said it had deployed more mobile medical units to southern provinces. Around 1,000 people have been airlifted by emergency helicopters to safety in recent days.
The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps reiterated that the forces “were using all their power” to minimize damages in oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan Province. Iranian drilling companies and other energy firms have been assisting rescue efforts in flooded areas, using pumps to remove water.
Rising water, mudslides and rockslide have blocked 36 roads across the country. Many flights and trains have been affected.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released around 500,000 Swiss francs ($500,000) as cash grants for 3,000 Iranian families who have lost homes and livelihoods in the floods.
The European Commission announced an initial amount of €1.2 million in response to the recent floods in Iran.
Pompeo’s “unprofessional" comments
On Thursday, Iran's foreign minister blasted his US counterpart over his "unprofessional" and "demagogic" comments about Tehran's response to the unprecedented floods, reminding the US of its own failure in dealing with the aftermath of similar natural disasters over the past years.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday exploited the national emergency in Iran to once again attack the Islamic Republic, claiming that Tehran's response to the floods showed the level of what he called "mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, however, fired back at Pompeo in a statement, which was also posted on his official Twitter page, on Thursday.
"It seems that the US Secretary of State is unaware of the mismanagement of natural disasters in the US over the past two years, and hence opines – in an unprofessional, interventionist and demagogic manner – on Iran’s management of the horrific and unprecedented floods which simultaneously afflicted 24 provinces," said Zarif.
Zarif further said in the statement that the Iranian people will successfully overcome the destructive impacts of the floods and will use the lessons they have learned in their response to this natural disaster to avoid future catastrophes.
US Blocking of humanitarian aid, a crime
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said US harming of humanitarian work in flood-hit areas constitutes “an unprecedented crime.”
“The US move to block international humanitarian aid to those affected by flood is an unprecedented crime,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani called on the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the country’s legal bodies to pursue the issue through legal channels.
He said even Iranians living abroad were not able to send their aid to their fellow people due to Washington’s sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday that the US had frozen the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society as part of its sanctions against the Iranian people, thus preventing other countries from sending humanitarian aid to people in Iran’s flood-stricken areas.
IRNA, Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.