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Cyclone in Oman, Iran leaves at least 52 dead

Flooding forces residents to leave

A man tried to cross a flooded road damaged by Cyclone Gonu near Jusk seaport 1,240 miles southeast of Tehran, yesterday. The cyclone's power waned after it killed at least 52 people. (Morteza Nikoubazl/REUTERS)

TEHRAN -- Floods spawned by the remnants of Cyclone Gonu stranded people in dozens of tiny villages in the deserts of southern Iran yesterday, cutting off roads, power, and communications, and sending some residents into trees for safety.

Water encircled more than 100 villages deep in Kerman Province, where many residents subsist on livestock and small farm plots in villages consisting of a handful of families.

The storm killed at least 52 people -- 49 in Oman and three in Iran -- with more than two dozen missing. Lieutenant Siamak Miladi, a police commander in the Iranian town of Kalaganj, said rescue workers were expected to reach many villages by helicopter today.

"Power and telephone lines were affected by the flood there, so we do not have any access to them for the time being," he said in a telephone interview.

Flooding also swamped dozens of villages in neighboring Sistan and Baluchistan province, where the state news agency said some inhabitants had climbed up into treetops. The floodwaters drove out the residents of Shahrestan village, near the port city of Chabahar, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The report quoted Ebrahim Hood, a villager who said, "Children, old people, and women will lose their life if the assistance does not arrive."

Video footage showed people taking their belongings to higher ground.