Water levels in the Karkheh and Karun rivers in the southern province of Khuzestan could rise significantly when warmer weather melts 15,000 cubic meters of snow on the Zagros mountain range, which spans the length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau. Authorities have evacuated 270 villages along the banks of both rivers so far.
“Snow is a blessing. God willing, we will not experience any problems,” Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said. “Melting snow in [Zagros range] is a natural phenomenon that occurs every spring. We have taken all necessary precautions. We are talking about a maximum of two million cubic meters of waters. That should not give us cause for concern.”
Authorities have estimated that since late March, 14 billion cubic meters of floodwaters have covered vast areas of Khuzestan. Floodwaters have destroyed 40 percent of homes in the village of Shadegan alone. According to Khuzestan Governor Gholamreza Shariati, provincial authorities have taken necessary steps to divert floodwaters from the city of Abadan.
Close to 18 kilometers of floodwalls in the city of Khorramshahr have redirected 300 million cubic meters of water to the surrounding desert. However, a state of emergency remains in force for Abadan and Khorramshahr. Footage posted on social media on April 25 shows the Abadan-Ahvaz highway partially submerged in floodwaters.
Meanwhile, health officials have warned of the outbreak of water-borne diseases. According to Dr. Mohammad Mehran Aminifar, the president of the Iranshahr University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, there have been 196 new cases of people with malaria in flood-stricken regions. There have also been reports of children experiencing severe skin irritation in the city of Ahvaz and surrounding towns.
“We have received no reports about new cases of malaria and Leishmaniasis in regions affected by the flood. However, it could take up to six months before people show symptoms of these diseases,” Heidarali Abedi, a member of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) Health Committee said.
Aziz Saedi, the county administrator of Dashte Azadegan in the southern part of Khuzestan Province resigned on April 9 only two weeks after his appointment. Mr. Saedi has posted a video clip on social media citing “mismanagement and lack of cooperation among several senior provincial officials and members of the city council” as his reasons for resigning his post.
Saedi explained: “Some city council members know nothing about their responsibilities, which made it rather impossible for the rest of us to do our jobs and prompted me to resign.”
The governor’s office, however, insists that Saedi had not been appointed as the county administrator but temporarily assigned to the post to oversee the flood relief efforts in Dashte Azadegan.
Meanwhile, Hossein Danehpour, the county administrator of Shushtar, in the northeastern part of Khuzestan province, has criticized several local reporters for publishing a selfie he had taken while touring the flood-stricken regions in a helicopter.
Authorities have since searched the homes and offices of those reporters who had republished the selfie that Danehpour had most likely taken with his mobile phone and posted on social media afterward.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]