TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Sistan and Baluchestan on Saturday to oversee relief operations in the flood-stricken southeastern province.
The visit came after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei ordered state officials to rush aid to those affected by severe flooding in several cities and villages in southeast Iran.
Rouhani arrived at Chabahar Konarak airport Saturday morning and was then flown by helicopter to the flood-hit areas. The president was accompanied by several ministers during his one-day visit to the impoverished province.
Heavy rains, which started on January 9, caused flash flooding in Sistan and Baluchestan and the neighboring Kerman and Hormozgan provinces.
Sistan and Baluchestan is the worst hit after receiving record-breaking precipitation after witnessing years of drought.
Officials say the floods have destroyed roads and many bridges, washed away farms and damaged 20,000 houses.
Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Muhammad Eslami on Thursday put damage to roads, bridges and waterways in Sistan and Baluchestan province at $53 million.
The province on the Gulf of Oman is home to several ports, including Chabahar, but Ravanbakhsh Behzadian at they are operating normally.
"Imports and exports through the southern ports are running as usual, and the recent floods have not affected them,” he told ISNA news agency.
Commander of the Iranian army’s ground forces General Kioumars Heydari on Friday said several units under his command are deployed with helicopters to the affected regions to assist local people.
They are helping with transferring food, drinks and medicine and reopening roads to villages and towns, he said.