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Drought-stricken Iran sinks under deadly floods

Heavy flooding has battered Iran's south and southeast, the same areas that have been hardest hit by drought in recent years.

At least 10 people are confirmed dead and several other remain missing in Iran's south and southeast as severe weather conditions and flash floods slam the impoverished region.

Dramatic footage in the past six days has shown a trail of destruction with bridges collapsing and cars washed away by the unprecedented precipitation in Sistan-Baluchistan, Kerman, Fars and Hormozgan provinces. 

According to Iran's Emergency Organization, the massive blow to the already weak infrastructure cut off access to many villages, complicating relief operations in the four provinces. While a countless number of homes in remote communities were damaged, officials have indicated that only a tiny fraction were accessible for successful cleanup operations.  

In Hormozgan, the harsh weather caused water and electricity outages in some 30 villages, while in the city of Konarak, floodwaters inundated 80% of neighborhoods. 

Some villages were entirely evacuated. The situation on the ground was described by the local Disaster Management Task Force as "critical," with the flood-stricken communities in dire need of emergency aid. 

In the capital Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi said he had asked his energy minister to immediately visit the affected areas before "presenting a report on the ongoing relief work."

At the forefront of the relief and rescue operations was the Red Crescent Society, which reported providing temporary shelters, tents, blanket and basic food supplies but issued an urgent plea for public donations.   

While the devastating floods seemed to have caught Iranian authorities off guard, they followed advance alerts by meteorologists. Explaining the extensive damage, officials noted that the precipitation of some 350 millimeters far surpassed the soil's typically low absorption in such cities as Minab and Konarak.  

The affected provinces, particularly Sistan-Baluchistan, are among those hardest hit by consecutive droughts in recent years that have turned much of the region's once-thriving farms into apocalyptic scenes.

Yet the disaster comes as no novelty to the locals in the affected areas. In 2019, the death toll from one flash flood in Shiraz shocked the country. It took only 10 minutes for the raging waters to kill at least 18 people in a tragedy that critics said could have been avoided if the authorities had heeded warnings. 

Government-funded urban development projects near river banks and close to natural floodplains have continued for years despite the alarms sounded by Iranian scientists and environmentalists, who are now pointing to the same policies as the major culprit in the latest deaths and devastation.