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Iran says 27 dead, 20 still missing after flood

TEHRAN, July 27 (AFP) - Iranian officials said late Tuesday that 20 people are still missing after confirming three more people died in a flood along the Caspian Sea, bringing the death toll to 27.

Rescue teams are continuing the search for victims of Monday's deluge, which has left another 95 people in hospital, the official IRNA news agency said.

Entire villages were washed away and thousands of homes destroyed Monday when flood waters roared through northern Iran after the heaviest rain in the region in 100 years.

Residents in the northern towns of Neka and Behshahr were without food, water and electricity Tuesday as relief teams struggled to cope with the disaster.

MP Mohammad Hassan Jamshidi, who represents the region in parliament, said the disaster was the result of an uncompleted dam in Neka, IRNA said.

It said some 59 villages had been partially or entirely wiped out in the "immense destruction" of the flood, which tore through the northern province of Manzandaran early Monday following a night of intense rain.

Neka governor Ebrahim Qorbani said Monday that the raging waters had damaged railroad stations, bridges, factories and other major infrastructure sites.

The flood was brought on by what authorities called the heaviest rains here this century.

The rains, which began late Sunday, came after a crippling nationwide drought that has ravaged crops and virtually obliterated the summer harvest.


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