Flash flooding in Iran kills at least 21 people, more missing

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

On Friday, heavy rains flooded the Rudbal River, causing flooding in the Estehban, Niriz and Darab districts in the drought-stricken Fars province, although more than 10 villages were affected by the floods.

Rescuers helped rescue 55 people trapped in the floods, including several tourists, but at least six people are still missing, local governor Yousef Karegar said.

Iran’s metrology department has warned of possible heavy rain across the country, which is experiencing a multi-year drought blamed on climate change.

In footage taken from the scene, several cars parked by the river are swept away as it overflows, and their owners climb out of the cars.

15 vehicles drowned in the river and 12 were pulled out of the water, said Khalil Abdullahi, director general of the Fars Province Crisis Department.

The risk of flash flooding in the region is also exacerbated by the widespread construction of buildings and roads near riverbeds.

In March 2018, flooding in Fars province killed 44 people.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi expressed his condolences to the families of the flood victims.

Climate change is making droughts much more frequent and intense, experts say, threatening food security in Iran and the region as a whole.

Concerns about environmental issues in Iran have risen, with many Iranians protesting in cities affected by climate change.

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

Dozens of people were arrested in June after protests 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 environmental disaster for this mountainous region.