1121 GMT October 22, 2019
Unprecedented flooding sweeping Iran has caused a total of 67,000 billion rials (nearly $1.6bn at the official rate set by the government) to farmers in 19 provinces, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.
“Floodwaters have inundated 900,000 hectares of agricultural lands and 110,000 hectares of orchards, inflicting 10 to 100 percent damage to them,” Abdolmehdi Bakhshandeh, the ministry’s deputy for planning and economic affairs told IRNA.
Bakhshandeh said most of the farms hit by flooding are not insured and that the government plans to use the resources of the Crisis Management Organization to compensate for the losses.
Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization also said on Monday that 730 monuments and historical sites have been damaged by rainfall and flooding in 25 provinces.
According to Mohammad Hassan Talebian, the deputy of the organization, a budget of 300 billion rials (nearly $90mn) is needed to restore and save those sites.
“Some historical monuments are still underwater and experts have not been able to examine them.”
He said UNESCO has asked Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization to report on the status of Iran’s registered sites in the recent floods.
Most of Iran, a usually arid country, has been struck by devastating flooding since mid-March with 70 people killed, according to the country's emergency services.
About 1,900 cities and villages have been affected by floods after heavy rains.
Currently, the situation has been reported critical in some areas of Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces in the west and southwest of Iran.
Sheiban, a town with a population of 40,000 in Khuzestan, was the latest community that received an evacuation order after a small dam collapsed due to flooding.
Authorities evacuated six cities along the Karkheh River in Khuzestan on Saturday after more rain sparked fears of new flooding.
According to ISNA, a total of 210 villages along the river have been evacuated, 61 of which are now flooded.
Also on Monday, patients from a hospital threatened by floodwaters in Ahvaz were evacuated.
Aid workers were battling to prevent floods reaching Ahvaz, which is the capital of Khuzestan Province and home to about 1.3 million people.
The advancing waters sparked fears that a hospital on the city's northern outskirts would be submerged after the nearby Karkheh River burst its banks.
"Salamat hospital has been evacuated and all patients transferred to Golestan hospital on the orders of the crisis management authorities due to the risk of the hospital being flooded," Meysam Moazi, the head of Golestan hospital told ISNA.
The huge floods have forced authorities to release water from one of the largest dams in the area, which has left some of the cities downstream under threat.
A "significant amount" of floodwater from Karkheh started moving toward Ahvaz on Sunday, according to city mayor Mansour Katanbaf.
"We've been trying to manage the water ... most of it has been diverted toward other channels and what's left is being handled," Katanbaf said.
According to Khuzestan’s Crisis Management, about 30,000 people have been transferred to emergency camps in the province.
The worst hit in the latest deluge was the Lorestan Province where in some cities whole neighborhoods were washed away and 230 villages are still cut off.
The cities of Poldokhtar and Mamoulan and surrounding areas are one of the most damaged parts of Lorestan.
Iran’s northeast was swamped on March 19 before the west and southwest of the country were submerged on March 25, killing a total of 45 people.
The government said the flooding had damaged nearly 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) of roads, or 36 percent of the country's entire network.
AFP contributed to this story.