Avalanches kill 12 in mountainous area near Iran’s capital

Rescue workers end search for survivors

Iranian rescue workers ended their search for survivors on Sunday after avalanches killed 12 people in a mountainous area north of the capital, state TV reported.

The avalanches struck in four areas on Friday following strong winds and snowfall on Saturday.

The Alborz mountain range where the avalanches occurred is a popular weekend destination for hiking and climbing. Fridays are a day off for most Iranian workers.

State TV broadcast footage showing emergency crews using a helicopter to search for the missing.

Iran’s Red Crescent Society released photos of rescue workers unloading body bags from a helicopter on Saturday.

The report said 11 people were found dead, and one died after being taken to hospital. It said rescue teams found 14 missing people during the operation.

Authorities said many disregarded reports by the meteorological office about possible strong winds on Friday.

Deadly avalanches are rare in Iran. In 2017, two avalanches killed 11 hikers.

Separately, Iranian maritime authorities were searching for the seven crew members of an Iranian transport vessel that capsized in rough Gulf waters on Friday, the semi-official Isna news agency reported.

"We are trying to find the missing by mobilising all our facilities and forces, and informing passing vessels and the naval search and rescue centres of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan," Esmail Makkizadeh, deputy head of Iran's regional maritime body, told Isna.