Flooding in southern Iran has killed at least 22 people and left one person missing after heavy rainfall in the largely arid country, a local official has said.
Videos posted on local and social media on Saturday showed vehicles being carried away by the rising waters of the Roodball river in the southern province of Fars. One video showed adults pulling a child from a car as it began to shift downstream.
Flooding affected several towns in and around the Estahban county area of the country. “The number of people killed has risen to 22 after another body was found,” Javad Moradian, who heads a local rescue unit, told Mehr news agency.
A Red Crescent official earlier put the death toll at 21, with two people missing.
Iran has endured repeated droughts over the past decade, but also regular floods, a phenomenon made worse when torrential rain falls on sun-baked earth.
The governor of Estahban, Yousef Kargar, said “around 5.00 pm yesterday, heavy rains … in the central parts of Estahban county led to flooding”, according to state news agency IRNA.
The incident happened 174 kilometres (108 miles) east of the provincial capital Shiraz on a summer weekend, when families tend to head to cooler areas such as rivers, lakes and valleys.
“A number of local people and sightseers (from other areas) who had gone to the riverside and were present in the riverbed were caught in the flood due to the rise in the water level,” Kargar added.
Iran’s first vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, called on the governor of Fars province to open an investigation into the incident and “to compensate the families of the victims,” according to IRNA.
The state news agency also reported that a weather report put out by meteorologists in Fars warned there could be further strong rainfall ahead.
In 2019, heavy rains in the country’s south left at least 76 people dead and caused damage estimated at more than $2bn.
In January, two people were initially reported killed in flash flooding in Fars when heavy rains hit the area, but the toll rose to at least eight there and elsewhere in Iran’s south.
Scientists say the climate crisis amplifies extreme weather, including droughts as well as the potential for the increased intensity of rain storms.