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Annan offers UN help to humanitarian efforts in flood-stricken Iran

Annan offers UN help to humanitarian efforts in flood-stricken Iran

As Iran assesses the damage from flash floods that struck the north-eastern part of the country over the past few days, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said the United Nations stood ready to help the Tehran Government in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the loss of life and devastation caused by the floods, and extended his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Iran.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), torrential rains started causing flooding in several urban and rural areas in Golestan, Khorasan and Semnan provinces on 10 August. The cities of Kolaleh and Minoodasht, as well as 15 villages nearby, were the worst affected.

So far, 48 deaths in Golestan province and 2 in Khorasan province have been registered, with 25 people reported missing. OCHA tentatively estimated that 15,000 hectares of agricultural fields have been washed away, with the floods causing approximately $6.27 million worth of damage.

The floods also rendered roads unusable and cut off electricity, gas and water supplies in Golestan, Khorasan and Semnan.

Most provinces of Iran, including those affected by the floods, have been suffering from a severe three-year drought. As the drought and degradation of natural vegetation continue to expose soil unprotected, OCHA warned that flash floods could become a major problem unless the situation improves. In July, flooding affected north-western provinces of Iran, killing 30 people.