21 die in Iran snow storms

2008-01-07 21:02

Tehran - At least 21 people have been killed and 88 others injured in Iran in accidents related to heavy snowfall and strong winds, state media reported Monday.

Iran has suffered from the most serious snow storms in a decade since Saturday - forcing schools and government offices to close, blocking major roads and leading to the cancellation of all domestic and international flights.

As much as 55 centimetres of snow has fallen in areas of northern and central Iran, said meteorologist Ali Abedini. Heavy snow also blanketed the capital of Tehran on Sunday, the second time in a week.

"At least 21 people have been killed and 88 others injured ... as a result of heavy snow," state-run radio reported. "Some died of the severe cold, some were buried under avalanches and others died after their cars overturned on snow-covered roads."

The cold weather has caused problems for residents in western Iran, with about a dozen towns suffering from gas cuts due to a surge in demand and a cut in gas exports from Turkmenistan.

Government officials have urged citizens to reduce their notoriously high consumption of gas to ensure there are no further cuts or shortages.

Authorities have also urged Iranians to cancel any unnecessary travel and warned that the snowfall would continue in the coming days.