The Heat Is Online

Unusual Iran Snowstorm Snarls Transportation

Flights cancelled as heavy snowfalls hit Iran


TEHRAN (Reuters) - Some of the heaviest snowfalls in years caused severe transport disruptions in Iran on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of most flights and the closure of many roads, Iranian media said.


All international and domestic flights to and from Tehran were cancelled and some northwestern cities saw their first snow in 20 years. State radio said many roads to and from Tehran were also closed.


"All international flights ... to and from Imam Khomeini International Airport have been cancelled," aviation authority spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told Reuters, referring to Tehran's international airport.


Flights at 15 other airports in the Middle Eastern country were also cancelled, state radio said.


The authorities closed all schools in Tehran and children were told to stay at home also in other cities, with snow falling in northern, eastern and central regions.

Thousands of motorists and passengers were stuck in the snow and police helped them find shelter in mosques and elsewhere, the media said.


Tehran's normally clogged roads were quieter than usual, with those braving the weather driving cautiously to avoid accidents.


A road linking Tehran with the holy city of Qom was closed, as was one between the capital and the northern province of Mazandaran, which television said saw its heaviest snowfall in about 12 years.


At one point, 15,000 people were stranded on a highway between the cities of Qazvin and Zanjan west of Tehran.


Tehran is located at the foothills of the Alborz mountain range, home to several ski resorts. Snow often falls on the capital in winter but usually involves light falls over most of the city that becomes heavier in higher, northern suburbs.


2007. Copyright Environmental News Network


Dozens killed in Iran blizzards, Jan. 10, 2008


At least 28 people are reported to have died in Iran's heaviest snowfall in recent years. 


Eight people froze to death as severe blizzards left 40,000 people stranded in their cars, authorities said.


Iranian authorities are urging people to stay at home.


Although most have now been rescued, another 20 people are reported to have died in car crashes caused by the weather, officials said.


Tehran has declared two days of national holiday, urging people to stay at home to avoid the bitter cold.


The temperature has been down as low as -24 degrees Celsius, and for the first time in living memory there has been snow in the country's southern deserts.


Gas shortage fears


There are now concerns the severe temperatures may lead to a major shortage of gas used to heat many homes, reports the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran.


Tehran's new international airport has re-opened but the situation remains chaotic.


It is taking around five hours to get passengers from their planes out to their cars, our correspondent says.


Story from BBC NEWS