UAE and Saudi Arabia to send aid to Iranian flood victims

Heavy flooding has claimed more than 70 lives in Iran over the past few weeks

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The UAE and Saudi Arabia will send aid to Iran to help those affected by flooding that has devastated the southwestern area of the country.

Emirates Red Crescent, in co-ordination with the Kingdom's counterpart, announced a joint initiative on Friday that they said would "ease the suffering of Iranian citizens affected by the devastating flash floods that recently hit Iran."

A joint statement issued by the two relief organisations said the operation is being undertaken within the framework of Islamic brotherhood and in solidarity with the Iranian people.

The two agencies are discussing the appropriate procedures to implement the initiative, reported state news agency Wam.

At least 70 people have died since March 31 as a result of the flooding, that was caused by the worst rain in Iran for at least a decade. The situation was exacerbated by floodwater rushing down from the north.

This week, Iranian authorities ordered scores of villages to be evacuated as the effects of severe flooding spread further across the country — affecting 20 of the country's 31 provinces.

Many residents of Susangerd, with a population of about 50,000, and five other communities in the oil-producing province of Khuzestan were being moved to safer areas as officials released water from major dams, state TV reported.

"An evacuation order has been issued and we are recommending women and children leave but we are asking the men and youth to stay and help us build floodwalls so we can keep the water out of these cities," the provincial governor, Gholamreza Shariati, told state TV. He said the flooding was the worst in 70 years.

It is believed to have caused $230 million (Dh845m) worth of damage to farms in the province, according to an agriculture official quoted by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praised rescuers but said officials should have better anticipated the disaster, state TV reported.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that US sanctions on Iran were also hampering aid efforts - claims that Washington denied.