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Iran Flooding Worst in 200 Years - 2001-08-14

More than 200 people are dead in what is thought to be Iran's worst flooding in two centuries. The death toll is expected to rise. Thousands of people have been evacuated to higher ground. Officials have issued an urgent call for volunteers to help find the missing.

Hundreds have been killed and hundreds more may be dead following flash flooding Friday in northeast Iran after heavy rains swept through the Golestan and Khorasan provinces.

Local authorities have made an urgent plea for volunteers to help search for the missing. However the search effort itself is being hampered because bridges and roads have been swept away by river waters raging over their banks.

An estimated 1,500 homes have been destroyed. Gas supplies and drinking water in some areas have been cut off.

So far an estimated 7,500 people have been rescued and moved to higher ground. There, they are getting blankets, tents and food. Several hundred others are feared trapped or dead in the worst affected areas.

In the meantime, Iranian Army and Red Crescent helicopters are scouring large areas of flooded farmland looking for survivors. Some have been spotted perched on top of damaged homes and small islands of dry land desperately waiting to be rescued.

For the missing, hope is fading. A local Iranian official in one area was quoted as saying, "There is a high possibility that most of the missing may be dead but, because of the bad weather, we cannot find them."

There is flooding in northeastern Iran, while much of the rest of the nation is suffering from severe drought.