Three dead, hundreds hospitalized in Iran dust storms
Iran, with a population of more than 85 million, is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and the rise in global temperatures
At least three people have died and over 1,300 others have required medical attention as dust storms sweep across Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, state media reported Friday.
Such storms have become more frequent in recent years in Iran's south as wetlands are drying up at an increasingly alarming rate, spurring regional water disputes. Official news agency IRNA quoted the province's crisis management chief, Majid Mohebi, as saying three people "died in accidents caused by reduced visibility" this week.
Over the past three days "1,346 people... have sought medical assistance from hospitals and medical centers,” Mohebi added.
He said the most common problems were respiratory, heart, and eye ailments.
A forecast issued by the regional meteorological center predicted that strong winds and dust storms would continue for several days.
Dust and sandstorms have always affected the Middle East but have become more intense and more frequent in recent years. Experts associate this trend with overgrazing and deforestation, as well as overuse of river water.
Reduced water flow in the Helmand River has led to diplomatic tensions between Iran and neighboring Afghanistan, which share the waterway.
Tehran accused an upstream dam built by Afghanistan of restricting the flow into a lake that straddles their common border, while Kabul has blamed climatic factors for the reduced river volumes.
Sistan-Baluchistan, hit by a severe heatwave in late July and early August, has long faced water shortages. IRNA reported last month that around 1,000 people had received hospital treatment over several days because of rising temperatures and dust storms.
Iran, with a population of more than 85 million, is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and the rise in global temperatures.