(CNN) – At least 69 people have been killed in flooding and landslides that hit cities across Iran, Iran’s Crisis Management Organization said on Sunday.
Nezhad Jahani, a senior official at the organization, said at least 45 people are still missing in Tehran and three other provinces following the recent floods, which damaged at least 20,000 residential homes.
More than 20 provinces, including the Tehran province, have been affected by the floods that were caused by heavy rainfall, semi-official Fars news agency said. Several airports and main highways were closed and thousands of people evacuated.
State-media said the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told ministers and governors to prepare measures that would minimize damage resulting from flooding, as the Iranian Meteorological Organization warned the rain would continue across several provinces.
Iran has been battling deadly floods and mudslides for two weeks, including in the country’s south. The Red Crescent said the damage in the southern Fars province was caused by flooding from a dam on the Rodbal River near the city of Estahban.
Scientists say the climate crisis is making flash flooding events like the ones seen in Iran this week more likely because while more intense evaporation leads to more droughts, warmer air can hold more water vapor to produce extreme rainfall events.
A study into the effects of climate change on Iran found that the extreme wet and dry periods are becoming more frequent, and that there are more extended periods of extremely hot temperatures and higher frequency of floods across the country. In 2019, more than 70 people died in Iran because of flooding following record rainfalls.