July 29 (Reuters) – Rescuers searched for the missing in Iran on Friday after landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains killed at least 53 people, officials said.
Mehdi Valipour, head of emergency operations at the Red Crescent Society, told state TV that 16 people were still missing after two days of floods that have affected 400 towns and villages in 18 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Many highways were closed.
Friday’s worst hit area was Firouz Kooh, in the foothills of Alborz Mountains northeast of the capital Tehran, where at least 10 people died, Tehran governor Mohsen Mansouri told state TV.
He was later quoted by local news agencies as saying around six people were also missing.
Floods were still ravaging northern areas of Tehran province on Friday, he said, adding that despite repeated warnings, trekkers were still heading toward Firouz Kooh.
The town of Firouz Kooh, about 140 km (90 miles) from Tehran, is a favourite retreat for vacationers because of its cool summer temperatures. The area’s lush trails are also popular with trekkers.
State media said at least eight people died on Thursday in a landslide caused by floods in the village of Imamzadeh Davood northwest of Tehran, that also damaged a religious shrine there. As many as 14 people were reported missing.
Last Saturday, flash floods in the southern Fars province killed 22 people.
([email protected];Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)