Flash floods in Iran have killed at least 24 people and injured hundreds more after days of torrential rain caused rivers to overflow in various parts of the country, local news media reported on Tuesday.
The sudden, destructive deluge hit the country during Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, when many take to the road for vacations.
At least 19 people died in Shiraz, a city in southern Iran that is a popular tourist destination, according to the privately owned Tasnim News Agency, based in Tehran.
The floods also hit the northern provinces of Mazandaran and Golestan, killing at least five people and affecting more than 200 villages, Tasnim reported on Monday.
Video footage on social media showed people clinging to lampposts in an effort to avoid being washed away by a torrent of water and mud, with cars and other debris swept along in the tumult.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran praised the efforts of the emergency services, including the police and troops.
“Floods in a number of provinces around the country, especially in Shiraz, which has left a number of our dear citizens dead and injured in addition to ample financial damages to our fellow Iranians, has caused great grief and sorrow,” Mr. Rouhani said in a statement on Monday.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, on Sunday ordered the army to expand its efforts in the northern provinces. On Monday, he asked the military to respond in Shiraz, too.
The United Nations said on Monday that it was ready to support the “government-led rescue and relief efforts.”
Despite the apparent efforts of the authorities, Iran’s judiciary has started an investigation into the emergency response, Reuters reported.
“Any shortcomings regarding the handling of the floods, failure to provide relief and aid to the survivors, will be investigated,” Ebrahim Raisi, the head of the judiciary and a powerful cleric who lost to Mr. Rouhani in the 2017 presidential election, told the Iranian news agency Mizan on Sunday.
An activist website, Iran Human Rights Monitor, said on Twitter on Tuesday that the authorities in Shiraz were “nowhere in sight,” adding that the flash floods had “inundated the historic city.”
The group also said that deforestation by the Iranian government had contributed to the disaster.
The Iranian energy minister, Reza Ardakanian, said global warming was the culprit.
“These floods in Iran are the result of climate change worldwide,” he told Tasnim, according to Reuters.
Torrential rain across the country is forecast to last for two more days, Tasnim said, citing the Iranian meteorological agency.