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Iranian Officials Criticized As Severe Flooding Wreaks Havoc

The head of Iran's Red Crescent relief organization says the town of Pol-e Dokhtar is in a "super-crisis" situation.

Heavy flooding in western and southwestern Iran that has killed dozens of people and forced thousands from their homes in recent weeks has resulted in strong criticism of the government's relief response to the crisis.

The severe floods -- caused by weeks of heavy rain -- have swept through hundreds of towns and villages in 20 regions.

The mountainous Lorestan Province and the oil-producing Khuzestan Province have been especially hard hit, with forced evacuations of dozens of towns and villages and massive damage to homes and infrastructure.

At least 60 people have died in recent weeks due to the floods. Many others are reported missing.

Sarem Razaee, the head of Iran's Red Crescent relief organization, said the town of Pol-e Dokhtar, in Lorestan Province, was in a "super-crisis" situation. All communication with the town, at least two-thirds of which was underwater, was cut off on April 1.

At least 60 villages in Lorestan were reportedly underwater.

WATCH: Towns and villages across large parts of Iran have been deluged over the past two weeks in the heaviest flooding the country has seen in at least a decade.

Floods Devastate Iran, Wipe Out Villages, Bridges
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Iranian emergency services have brought four helicopters to Pol-e Dokhtar because several land routes to the city have been cut off. Many people have been housed in tents and some food supplies have been brought to the area.

But Mahmud Sadeqi, a parliament member, warned President Hassan Rohani that Lorestan Province was "facing a tragedy" and that people urgently needed food, drinking water, and medicine.

He added that the "lack of order and planning is widespread."

Thousands of people are sheltering in the open with little food or warm clothes in often rainy weather.

The relief effort was seen by many as inadequate, and the government as well as aid agencies came under severe criticism for the aid effort being too small in scale and unable to cope with the acute needs of tens of thousands of people affected by the floods.

Mohammad Pakpur, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) ground forces, said there had been "no management" of the rescue or aid operations in Pol-e Dokhtar and that government officials would not "dare" to go the area because the "people are in a rebellious mood."

He added that citizens evacuated from the area "are in a sorry state and conditions are bad."

A man watches as floodwaters hit the city of Khorramabad in the western province of Lorestan on April 1.
A man watches as floodwaters hit the city of Khorramabad in the western province of Lorestan on April 1.

Parliament deputy Hamidreza Kazemi, who was in Pol-e Dokhtar, said many people "have spent two nights in the open, having fled to the mountains and have nothing," Fars news agency reported.

He urged the government and aid organizations to send food and warm clothes.

Lorestan Governor Seyyed Musa Khademi warned of critical humanitarian needs in his province that were not being met. A representative of the governor's office in the town of Mamoolan criticized the Iranian Red Crescent for a lack of action in the region.

Mohsen Rezaee, a senior politician and former IRGC commander, warned that the Karkheh Dam in Khuzestan was facing a critical situation and had to release more water.

Kermanshah Province Governor Asadollah Razani said on April 2 that the floods had caused large-scale damage of more than $60 million to roads and canals in his region, IRNA reported.

He added that some 70,000 hectares of farmland had also been destroyed.

Flooding in Ahvaz on April 1.
Flooding in Ahvaz on April 1.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 2 blamed the Iranian government for the shortcomings in aid relief, one day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that "economic terrorism" by Washington was responsible for the shortage of rescue helicopters.

"These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness," Pompeo said. "The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster."

He said the United States was "ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies" in an effort to help Iranians caught in the floodwaters.

Zarif called Washington's offer "fake news."