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Iran's Gilan province sustains heavy damage by unprecedented snowfall

Rasht, Gilan prov, Feb 13, IRNA -- The Caspian Sea province of Gilan in northern Iran, has sustained severe damage due to an unprecedented snowfall which has hit the province for four consecutive days and nights since last Monday.

Unofficial figures show that more than 20,000 houses, state buildings, educational units and other public service facilities have been totally destroyed by the heavy snowfall which has been unprecedented in the history of the province with its 2,400,000 population.

Snow reaches two-meters high in the provincial capital city of Rasht and four meters high in mountainous areas such as Siahkal, Deilaman and Roudbaneh in eastern Gilan and Shaft, Chobar and Nasirmahaleh in southwest Gilan.

Meanwhile, the official figures released by the provincial officials said that the number of destroyed buildings stood at only 6,000 units throughout the province.

The unofficial reports also said that the extent of damage to the province amounted to billions of rials while the provincial officials refused to provide any figures in this regard, arguing that experts were trying to estimate the exact extent of damage.

Currently, more than 700 villages in Gilan have been cut off from other parts of the province and there is no way to reach the villages or provide any help to them.

Provincial officials also announced that Gilan residents were in dire need of foodstuff, specially bread, and blankets among other things while there has been no power or water supplies for nearly one week in the city of Rasht.

However, latest reports coming from the city indicated that water was partially supplied for some areas in Rasht as well as the provincial cities of Lahijan and Astaneh, 30-40 km east of the city.

More than 80 percent of total damage were inflicted on villages where chicken farm, rice processing factories and other manufacturing units were destroyed in addition to the houses and shops.

A provincial official told IRNA by phone that lack of heavy road construction machinery has slowed down efforts to reopen the roads buried under snow.

Head of Gilan province's education department, Ne'matollah Asadipour said that 130 schools and educational units were totally destroyed in the province, depriving more that 40,000 out of a total 500,000 students, of studying throughout Gilan.

The official said that the destroyed schools were located in Rash, Kochesfahan, Lashte Nesha, Astaneh, Lahijan, Shaft and Siahkal.

Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry official who visited the province to personally inspect the snow-hit areas, told IRNA that a large number of relief workers were dispatched to Gilan from its neighbouring province of Mazandaran as well as Qazvin, Tehran and Ardebil provinces.

Deputy Interior Minister for Development Affairs, Moqimi, added that relief workers have succeeded in reopening the Rasht airport runway in order to facilitate airlift of relief supplies to the province.

Moqimi added that relief operations would continue till the complete removal of existing problems in the province.

Meanwhile, it was also learned that the cabinet issued a statement late on Saturday calling on all provinces and governmental bodies to mobilize their facilities to help the snow-stricken province which is a recreation region for residents of other provinces during holidays.

... Payvand News - 2/14/05 ... --

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