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Iran's Rohani Blames Power Cuts On Heat Wave, Severe Drought

An Iranian shop operates in the dark after a blackout in the capital, Tehran.

Iran's outgoing President Hassan Rohani has blamed frequent blackouts on a heat wave and a severe drought that is sharply driving up electricity demand.

Tehran and other major Iranian cities have experienced frequent power outages over the past several days and authorities say they may continue through the end of the month.

"We regret the problems the people have had in the past few days," Rohani told a cabinet meeting in footage broadcast by state television on July 7.

He attributed the surge in demand to "industrial growth and extreme heat," as well as energy-guzzling cryptocurrency mining operations.

On July 5, Rohani said Iran was facing an "unprecedented drought" with average rainfall down 52 percent compared to the previous year, bringing hydroelectric power generation to "almost" zero.

Social-media videos purportedly show Iranians protesting the outages in several cities, including Tehran and Shiraz.

The Energy Ministry has published schedules for rolling blackouts, but many citizens and businesses have lost power unexpectedly in recent days.

Rohani also blamed U.S. sanctions on Iran for choking investment in energy infrastructure.

The cuts also raised concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran.

Tehran's anti-coronavirus committee chief warned against health centers losing power while the capital struggles to contain a surge of the virus.

Hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi won the presidential election last month and is to replace Rohani in August.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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