The tragedy started in the four Northern provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan, Semnan and North Khorassan on Wednesday. Thirty provinces of Iran have been hit by severe weather conditions since then.
Over 56,000 people have been affected in various cities and rural areas in Golestan and Mazandaran as a result of heavy rainfall that hit the two provinces on March 19 and 20.
While the nation was shocked by the casualties and magnitude of destructions in the Northern regions of the country, another round of floods hit the country in the Western and Southwestern provinces on Monday.
The most shocking images were relayed from Shiraz, a very popular tourist destination homing historical monuments from ancient times to the present age, where the Northern opening gate of the city witnessed a tragic pileup of cars swept away by a flash flood.
The Gate of Quran has been built on a dry river bed and ten minutes after the start of sudden torrential rains at around 11:00 am local time on Monday more than 50 cars were washed away to the down of the slope into the city. Hitting trees and other streets signs and curbs the overrun cars piled up one another a kilometer down from the city gate.
Families, many from other cities and provinces visiting Shiraz for New Year holidays, trapped inside and stranded between the cars were the main victims and according to the latest account by Head of Iran Emergency Medical Service Pirhossein Kolivand 19 were dead and 119 were injured in the Southern city.
Kolivand added that all the corpses were stored in the central morgue of the Forensic Medicine Organization of Shiraz.
Governor General of Fars Province Enyatollah Rahimi said that the sudden flash flood happened in less than 10 minutes with the flow of water from Allah-o-Akbar gorge converging into the main road and affecting the moving vehicles.
After the incident, police blocked traffic to the flood-hit parts of the city, to speed up rescue operations and avoid further casualties.
Army units stationed in the city were among the many entities which rushed into the help of the flood stricken tourists and residents. All-terrain rescue vehicles, crane trucks, and armored personnel carriers were deployed to help the vehicles stacked one against another.
The flooding also inflicted financial damage upon the city’s markets, including the Vakil Bazaar, which has been registered as a national heritage.
Some homes and neighborhoods were inundated by water and domestic properties and appliences were damaged.
The Director General of the provincial office of Iran Meteorological Organization in Shiraz Masoud Dehmalayee said that in parts of the city precipitation rates overpassed 107 percent on Monday.
Officials said that the reservoirs across the country had been already emptied because of the flood warnings issued by the National Meteorology Organization.
The public relations department of the regional water organization of Fars Province also said that all dams in Fars were sitting pretty with 1.5 billion cubic meter unfilled capacity “which is perfectly capable of containing any flood water”.
In the Southwestern province of Khuzestan flash floods cut off many roads including Andika road connecting Andika to Shehr-e-Kurd, the capital city of the neighboring province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari.
In Sarpol Zahab county of Western province of Kermanshah a shepherd lost his life while trying to save his herd.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a statement on Monday, offered condolences to the bereaved and affected families, and ordered swift reaction by all relevant executive bodies and aid agencies.
He also tasked the interior minister and the governor general of Fars province to explore the reasons behind Monday’s deadly flood in the city of Shiraz and deal with all possible parties who have failed to fulfill their duties in this regard.
He had already on Sunday put all governors, governors general and officials in all Iranian provinces on full alert as widespread flooding continued in many parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Department of Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport issued a statement on Monday, noting that it is canceling or postponing some scheduled flights due to foul weather conditions.
The statement added that cancellation of a number of flights will continue until stable climate conditions are restored in some regions in the country.
The department also mentioned reduced horizontal visibility and special weather conditions affecting some airports that were destination of canceled flights as the main reason behind the decision.
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced in a statement on Monday that units of its Aerospace Force had been dispatched to help people stricken by flood in the Northern Iranian province of Golestan.
The statement added that the IRGC forces are using helicopters to provide flood-hit people with provisions, including food and drinking water, and transfer necessary equipment for relief workers.
Campaigns calling for collecting donations to help the flood-hit families have been launched by aid agencies, celebrities, and public figures.
Campaigns are aimed at raising money and gathering basic commodities required to start the reconstruction and rehousing operations. Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF) offices around the country are ready to receive the aid data-x-items and deliver them to the flooded areas.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society, a non-governmental organization (NGO), launched a similar campaign on Sunday.
On Saturday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called on officials and the nation to assist the flood-affected people.
The Leader’s official website has since been updated with a new feature that allows direct contribution to relief efforts.
Iranian celebrity figures have also joined in on the effort by encouraging their huge online fanbase to help relieve the difficult situation.
It was reported on Monday that donors have already contributed large sums of money to speed up the reconstruction process in Mazandaran.
Senior official Kamal Akbari said the Ministry of Interior had received numerous requests from NGOs offering voluntary aid services in flood-hit areas, adding they will begin their work from Tuesday.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said on Saturday that he had ordered additional and coordinated efforts to help the relief campaign.
He has authorized commanders in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iranian army, police, and the defense ministry to use forces under their command to provide “full and organized” assistance in flood-hit areas in a coordinated manner.
Baqeri has appointed his deputy, Major General Ataollah Salehi, as the field commander at the head of a group of high-ranking military chiefs to coordinate relief efforts between the armed forces and civilian organizations on the ground.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who has been touring the flood-hit regions, told reporters that relief efforts have been going forward at a strong pace thanks to coordination among all sides.
Authorities in Aqqala, one of the cities hardest hit by flooding, said they had to detonate a small part of the railway network in the area in order to speed up drainage and prevent greater damage to the tracks.
During the operation, explosives were placed underneath the tracks to help drain the flood waters.
According to local officials, no parts of the tracks were damaged in the explosion and the network would resume operations soon.