|Above: This photograph released by the Iranian news agency Fars News on March 23, 2019, shows flooded streets in the northern Iranian village of Agh Ghaleh. Image credit: ALI DEHGHAN/AFP/Getty Images.|
Weeks of torrential rains in Iran have caused record flooding that have killed at least 62 people and caused $1.1 billion in agricultural damage. Unofficial estimates have put the total economic cost at $3.6 billion. According to EM-DAT, this would rank as the second most expensive flood in Iranian history, behind the $5.4 billion damage (2019 dollars) wrought by the floods of April – June 1992. The death toll of the 2019 floods rank as the 18th deadliest flood in Iranian history.
According to a news release put out by the International Red Cross/Red Crescent (IFRC) on the crisis on Wednesday, the floods started in mid-March in Golestan Province in northeast Iran and have since spread to 23 of the country’s 31 provinces. Golestan received 70% of its annual rainfall in just one day in mid-March. The floods have closed 2199 roads, damaged 84 bridges, and brought two dams near their maximum level, forcing downstream evacuations.
The latest GFS model forecast predicts that widespread rainfall amounts of 1 - 2" can be expected across much of Iran during the coming week, with isolated heavier amounts. These rains are likely to cause further damage. Sayed Hashem, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“Iran is under water. This is an unprecedented crisis that has now touched at least 23 of Iran’s 31 provinces. While the precise impact is still to be seen, it is already very clear that the floods have caused extensive damage and suffering in villages, cities and rural areas.”
Bob Henson contributed to this post