0144 GMT February 17, 2020
At least seven people were killed and 85 others wounded in the heavy snowfall and avalanches that hit northern Iran, especially Gilan and Ardebil provinces.
In a weekly session of the cabinet on Wednesday, Rouhani ordered the roads and urban development, energy, information and communications technology, and interior ministries to mobilize all their capacities to expedite the aid and rescue service work and relieve the problems caused by the heavy snowfall in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The president also assigned Head of Iran's Plan and Budget Organization Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as his representative to visit the crisis-hit areas in order to address the problems.
The heavy snowfall in Gilan, which began on Sunday evening, with a height of up to 1.5 meters in some areas, created serious problems for the residents of at least 52 cities of the province, such as power cuts in almost all areas including the provincial capital of Rasht, IRNA reported.
In Gilan, the snow started on Sunday evening in the western part of the province, and spread to the central and eastern parts on Monday and Tuesday.
The power access of 256,000 people in Gilan was cut, but the Energy Ministry managed to restore the access for some 50,000. The snowstorm also caused outages in telephone and mobile communications.
An official of National Emergency Service said five people were killed in an avalanche triggered by heavy snow in Gilan.
The official added that two more people were killed in Rasht, the capital of Gilan Province, and dozens injured due to extreme weather conditions and snow-related incidents across the province.
Rescue teams were dispatched to a key road north of the country to help cars trapped in the snow.
Earlier reports in the Iranian media suggested that the snowfall and strong winds had dumped one meter of snow on the northernmost parts of the road near Rasht.
Also the heavy snowfall, which began on Saturday in Iran’s western and northwestern provinces, caused some roadblocks in the region.
Height of the snow has reached six meters in the Qarah Bolagh district in the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, a provincial official said Monday.
The snowstorm has been unprecedented in the region for the past few years, Head of Mahabad’s Road Maintenance and Transportation Office Mohsen Khademi said.
He added a number of cars and vehicles belonging to the office, including two snow grinders, were completely buried under mound of snow.
Referring to rescue of 25 people trapped in the snowstorm along the roads in areas in the province, Khademi added that the weather conditions prevented the emergency services from reaching the cars trapped in the snow.