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Iranian people join armed forces to aid flood-hit provinces

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photograph released by the Iranian news agency Fars News on March 23, 2019 shows aid workers and residents of the northern Iranian village of Aqqala walking in a flooded street.

Iranian people from all walks of life are joining the government and the armed forces in a nationwide relief campaign to help thousands of fellow countrymen and women affected by historic floods in two northern provinces.

Over 56,000 people have been affected in various cities and rural areas in Golestan and Mazandaran as a result of heavy rainfall that hit the two provinces on March 19 and 20. The severe flooding has so far killed at least five people.

On Monday, Iranian social media users launched an online effort using the Persian hashtag #رفیق_گلستان_باشیم (Let’s be friends with Golestan) in coordination with the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF).

An aid worker with the Iranian Red Crescent Society takes a stranded family in the country's flood-hit norther parts into safety. (Photo by IRNA)

The campaign is aimed at raising money and gathering basic commodities required to start the reconstruction and rehousing operations. IKRF offices around the country are ready to receive the aid items and deliver them to the flooded areas.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society, a non-governmental organization (NGO), launched a similar campaign on Sunday.

Residents in Aqqala in Iran's Golestan province are moved to safety.

On Saturday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on officials and the nation to assist the flood-affected people.

The Leader’s official website has since been updated with a new feature that allows direct contribution to relief efforts.

(Photo by IRNA)

Iranian celebrity figures have also joined in on the effort by encouraging their huge online fanbase to help relieve the difficult situation.

It was reported on Monday that donors have already contributed large sums of money to speed up the reconstruction process in Mazandaran.

Aid workers with the Iranian Red Crescent Society load aid item onto helicopters before flying to flood-hit areas in northern parts of the country. (Photo by IRNA)

Senior official Kamal Akbari said the Ministry of Interior had received numerous requests from NGOs offering voluntary aid services in flood-hit areas, adding they will begin their work from Tuesday.

Armed forces at work

Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said Saturday that he had ordered additional and coordinated efforts to help the relief campaign.

Commander of Iran's Basij resistance force Gholamhossein Gheybparvar speaks to residents in Aqqala which has been inundated by historic floods.

He has authorized commanders in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iranian army, police, and the defense ministry to use forces under their command to provide “full and organized” assistance in flood-hit areas in a coordinated manner.

Baqeri has appointed his deputy, Major General Ataollah Salehi, as the field commander at the head of a group of high-ranking military chiefs to coordinate relief efforts between the armed forces and civilian organizations on the ground.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who has been touring the flood-hit regions, told reporters that relief efforts have been going forward at a strong pace thanks to coordination among all sides.

Authorities in Aqqala, one of the cities hardest hit by flooding, said they had to detonate a small part of the railway network in the area in order to speed up drainage and prevent greater damage to the tracks.

During the operation, explosives were placed underneath the tracks to help drain the flood waters.

According to local officials, no parts of the tracks were damaged in the explosion and the network would resume operations soon.

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