Iran General NewsCold snap kills eight in Iran

Cold snap kills eight in Iran

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AFP: At least eight people froze to death in the heaviest snowfalls to have hit Iran in years, with several areas brought to a virtual standstill and 20 towns suffering cuts in gas supplies, officials said on Tuesday.
TEHRAN (AFP) — At least eight people froze to death in the heaviest snowfalls to have hit Iran in years, with several areas brought to a virtual standstill and 20 towns suffering cuts in gas supplies, officials said on Tuesday.

The snowfalls, said to be the worst in some 40 years, have forced all schools and government offices to close in Tehran and other regions in northern Iran over the last two days. They will remain shut on Wednesday.

The eight fatalities “were stuck on the roads and died of cold and freezing,” the head of Iran’s natural disasters control centre, Hossein Bagheri, told the ISNA news agency.

He added that 20 more people were killed in road accidents attributed to the bad weather, with 290 people injured and 40,000 stranded on the first night of heavy snow on Saturday.

Air travel also continued to suffer major disruption, with several flights cancelled from Iran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and hundreds of passengers stranded, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Among the victims of the delays was Germany’s Hansa Rostock football team, which has been stuck in Iran for the past three days after defeating the Iranian national side in a friendly game on Saturday.

The lowest temperature overnight was minus 24 degrees Celsius (minus 11 Fahrenheit) in Shahre Kord in Western Iran, while the capital Tehran registered minus seven degrees Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit), the television said.

The government announced that state offices and schools would be closed “on Wednesday and probably Thursday”. According to the IRNA, this decision was taken due to the “drop in temperatures and gas pressure.”

Around 20 towns in northern and western Iran have been hit by gas cuts during the cold spell amid a surge in demand and also an unexpected cut in imports from Turkmenistan, officials said.

The authorities have urged people to cut their notoriously profligate consumption and completely halted gas exports to Turkey, the only significant importer of Iranian gas, for the second time in two years.

Iran, owner of the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia, has major hopes for its nascent gas export industry but progress is being stymied by a lack on foreign investment in gas fields.

Tehran and several other cities in the north and centre of Iran lie at altitudes of more than 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) above sea level and are regularly hit by heavy falls of snow in winter.

Meanwhile, the dunes of the Kavir-e Lut desert in southwestern Iran were covered in a dusting of snow for the first time in living memory, IRNA reported.

“The villages elders said they had never seen or heard about snow in those areas,” it said.

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