February 14, 2020
Four days after heavy snowfall hit the province of Gilan, northern Iran, thousands of people in the urban and rural areas of the region are still without water and electricity.
At least eight people have been killed and 145 more injured in the snow-hit province, while many rural roads are blocked. Over 250,000 people in Gilan are suffering from a power outage, the state-run Khabar-Online news agency reports.
Local and national authorities have promised to restore power and water supply later today, February 13.
Meanwhile, Gilan’s Inspector General has lambasted the provincial officials for their late response to the disaster, insisting that even if they had not formed a “crisis headquarters” the critical situation in the province would have been the same as it is now.
According to local news outlets, the snowstorm was forecasted days ago, but the urban and government officials did not respond to the warning and took no necessary preventive measures.
“Heavy snowfall has hit fifty out of 52 cities of the province,” the director-general of Gilan’s Crisis Headquarters, Reza Eslami, said, adding, “Many areas are pounded by twenty to forty inches of snow.”
Furthermore, water supply, internet, and telecommunication services have also been disrupted across the province.
Thousands of people are reportedly stranded on the roads leading to the province. Late Tuesday, an official in Iran’s road transportation organization had promised that all passenger vehicles trapped on the Qazvin-Rasht Highway due to a traffic jam caused by snow would be helped.
“The storm had left nearly 100,000 homes and businesses in Rasht, a city of more than 700,000 people, without power while causing outages in telephone and mobile communications,” local news outlets reported.
The Islamic Republic Minister of Energy, Reza Ardakanian, believes the recent snowfall is much heavier than the previous record in 2004.
More than 250 kilometers (155 miles) to the west of Rasht, the province of Ardebil has also been hit by heavy snowfall.
Rescue teams have so far managed to help 800 villages in Ardebil. At the same time, the roads leading to 255 rural areas are still blocked, a local official maintained.
Other reports say that 400 villages in the province of Eastern Azarbaijan are cut off from the outside world.