Iran Expands Flood Warnings to Five Northeast, Southern Areas

(Bloomberg) -- Authorities in Iran expanded flood warnings to five additional provinces Saturday as rescue efforts continue across the western flank of the country already drenched by heavy rain.

Residents from the northeast to the south, including islands in the Persian Gulf, have been told to brace for flooding, thunderstorms and heavy showers in the next two days, the semi-official Fars news reported, quoting Ahed Vazife, director of meteorological forecasts and warnings at the Meteorological Organization of Iran.

Severe floods since March 19 have so far killed 70 people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of others from scores of villages across swathes of Iran’s northwestern and central region.

Khorasan Razavi, Khorasan Shomali and Khorasan Junoubi in Iran’s northeast and Sistan-Baluchistan, Bushehr and Hormuzgan in the south, including the island of Qeshm, will be affected by a weather front starting as soon as Saturday night and continuing into Sunday, Vazife is quoted as saying.

Khorasan Razavi, home to Iran’s second-largest city Mashhad, expects an “unprecedented” level of rainfall of above 50 millimeters (2 inches) in some areas, Vazife said.

Iranian officials have said that U.S. sanctions are blocking the Red Crescent from accessing aid money from overseas. So far the United Nations, Kuwait, Germany and the European Union have airlifted medicines, food and equipment -- water pumps, tents, bedding and boats -- to reach the provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan, Ilam, Lorestan and oil-rich Khuzestan.

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